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Auto blogWed, 13 Mar 2013 08:25:00 EST
Chrysler has slowed production of its Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans this week, Automotive News reports. The Windsor, Ontario plant will cut its three shifts from eight hours each to four hours each in an effort "to align production with market demand," a Chrysler spokesperson told AN. Chrysler also builds the closely related Routan minivan for Volkswagen at its Ontario facility, but has not built a single example thus far in 2013.
Sales of Chrysler's minivans fell 15 percent for the first two months of 2013, and a large part of that has to do with the 26-percent drop of the Grand Caravan alone (the T&C was only down by one percent). According to Automotive News data, as of March 1, Chrysler had an unsold inventory of 24,713 Town and Country models and 18,547 Grand Caravans - a 69- and 43-day supply, respectively.
"No sense running full speed now, then have a lot of vehicles sitting around a few months down the line," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson told AN. Full production is expected to resume again on March 18.
Take a good, long look at the image above. Don't worry, it's completely real; you're not hallucinating. Would you believe that's an actual screencap from an actual ad commissioned by Fiat that's airing on actual television? Believe it.
The commercials started as a series of animated GIFs from The Richards Group for Fiat's Tumblr page, according to Adweek. Chrysler's Chief Marketing Officer reportedly liked them enough that he had them cut into ads for TV. The result is a combination of Internet meme heaven that includes the above horse mask and "Deal with it," animation, experimental filmmaking, cats, a person in a bunny suit twerking on a Fiat 500 and more general bizarreness.
Whatever your opinion on them, you have to admit that the advertising is certainly attention grabbing. Imagine looking up at the TV form your tablet to catch a glimpse of this weirdness. If you don't like them, Fiat is even giving people the chance to do a better job. Its Tumblr is open to submissions of new GIFs, which could lead to some very inappropriate and potentially hilarious results given the way that the Internet often works.
The Center for Auto Safety is officially petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin scrutinizing alleged problems with the totally integrated power module (TIPM) on about 24 Chrysler Group SUVs and minivans. The advocacy group claims that the part's failure can cause affected vehicles to stall or not start at all. NHTSA is still looking into the accusations and deciding whether a full investigation is actually warranted.
The CAS petition claims at least 70 TIPM failures, but according to NHTSA, six of the complaints are for models that don't have the modules. In 34 of the reported cases, the vehicles refused to start, and in 17 of them the engine stalled. There were also two allegations of smoke and one of a fire. However, none of these affected airbag deployment or resulted in a crash.
This petition isn't the first TIPM-related problem for Chrysler Group. A recent report in the New York Times alleged that it found 240 complaints potentially related to the issue on NHTSA's website alone. In September, the automaker also recalled 230,760 examples worldwide (188,723 in the US) of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango replace the fuel pump relay circuit inside of the TIPM-7 with one external to the unit. The original part could allegedly cause the models to stall without warning. Even earlier, the company also recalled about 80,000 examples of the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro in 2007 to have the module reprogrammed.