2000 Jeep Cherokee Classic Sport Utility 4-door 4.0l on 2040-cars
Warsaw, Indiana, United States
Jeep Cherokee for Sale
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Auto blogTue, 14 Jan 2014 08:20:00 EST
For the past few years, Chrysler and its CEO, Sergio Marchionne, have gone head-to-head with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its boss, David Strickland, over the government safety agency's request for Chrysler to recall almost three-million Jeep vehicles due to what NHTSA says is a safety issue that has caused at least 51 deaths. After a three-year investigation and Chrysler's initial refusal to issue a recall because it deemed the vehicles safe and built to the day's federal requirements, last summer, the two parties compromised on a "voluntary campaign" to inspect 1.56 million vehicles, those being the 1992 to 1998 Grand Cherokee and 2002 to 2007 Liberty.
Those vehicles were designed with their gas tanks between the rear axle and the bumper, and NHTSA says that in rear-end collisions, damage to the fuel tank has caused fires responsible for those 51 deaths. The compromise reached last summer was that Chrysler would inspect 1.56 million vehicles and, "if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle." Practically speaking, that meant Chrysler would replace aftermarket trailer hitches, but would take no action if a vehicle had a factory-installed hitch or an aftermarket hitch from Mopar.
A report in The Detroit News says the "voluntary campaign" is just now getting under way, with Chrysler saying last week that the design of the replacement part had been finalized and it was tooling up "to deliver the required volume." Seven months later, still in question is whether NHTSA will crash-test the fix engineered by Chrysler, noteworthy because not only did the vehicles in question pass every safety standard necessary to be cleared for sale at the time, there are still questions (to those of us on the outside) as to how the Jeeps at issue fare among their peers in such incidents. Either way, Chrysler and NHTSA apparently still disagree on the efficacy of the remedy itself: the carmaker says it might help in low-speed crashes but not high-speed collisions, a position the NHTSA is at odds with. All of this means the campaign doesn't yet have an end in sight.
In our First Drive article on the 2014 Jeep Cherokee we said, "our informal and thoroughly unscientific opinion is they're going to sell tons of them. Why? Because it is very good." So far, it appears the public concurs. Of course, it's very early - the new compact utility has logged just one month of confirmed sales, but Larry Vellequette at Automotive News says dealers have told him that the second month of sales will be even better, a message that mirrors what we've heard from company execs.
In its first, severely truncated month on sale, the Cherokee sold 579 units. With all of November to play with, though, dealers moved 10,169 of them - compared to 11,753 Wranglers and 14,798 Grand Cherokees. That helped propel Jeep to a 30-percent year-on-year improvement for the month, Chrysler Group to a 16-percent improvement and the group's 44th consecutive month of sales growth, exceeding analyst expectations in posting its best November numbers since 2007.
If it can just keep replicating the its first month of sales, the finalist in North American Truck of the Year voting will smoke the trade done by the outgoing Liberty, which didn't break 7,900 units in a month in the last four years of its life (and normally didn't get close to even that). In March this year, Chrysler said it wants to build 250,000 Cherokees in its Toledo assembly plant for global sales. It's early yet, but with second-month sales quoted as being as "strong as death," the bookies might be resetting the odds.
Chrysler has some good news and some bad news. First, profits were up 16 percent over the second quarter of 2012, bringing the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based manufacturer $507 million on the back of strong demand for trucks and SUVs (a recurring theme this quarter, particularly in the US). Q2 revenue was up as well, from $16.8 billion in 2012 to $18 billion in 2013. The bad news is that the Pentastar's overall earnings forecast for net income in 2013 has been trimmed from $2.2 billion to between $1.7 and $2.2 billion, according to Automotive News.
In addition to the adjusted net income forecast, Chrysler tweaked its operating profit from $3.8 billion to between $3.3 and $3.8 billion. This has gone largely unexplained by Chrysler, perhaps hoping the news of a three-percent increase in its transaction prices for Q2 will allow it to sweep this adjustment under the rug.
The star of the show for Chrysler has been its US sales, which saw a 10-percent jump, both bettering the industry average of eight percent and improving over the same stretch of 2012. As with the increase in transaction prices, Chrysler has the new Ram pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee to thank. Perhaps most worrying from this report, though, is that every brand in the automaker's stable saw an increase in sales... except for the Chrysler brand itself.