Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jeep Commander SUV to stop production after 2009 model year

Auto industry analysts are seeing a bleak future for the boxy Jeep Commander SUV. They say that production of the hulking Jeep Commander SUV is to stop after 2009 model year. The boxy three row Jeep SUV was introduced a little over a year ago and was built at Chryslers Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.

According to Jeff Schuster, forecasting analyst with California-based J.D. Power and Associates, We removed the Commander from our forecast after the 2009 model year.?The same forecast was given another automotive analyst who didnt want to speak on the record. J.D. Power and other auto forecasting firms gather information from suppliers and other industry sources privy to automakers?future production plans.

The stoppage of the Jeep SUV production was further confirmed when the United Auto Workers official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to The Detroit News that the union understands for the Commander to go out of production in 2008 after the 2009 model year.

Rick Deneau spokesman of DaimlerChrysler AGs Chrysler Group said that the automaker does not discuss the product plans. Chrysler Group, maker and distributor of Plymouth vehicles and Plymouth parts, and includes brands like Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep have lost $1.5 billion in revenue last year and expected to outline an extensive restructuring plan comes February 14.

Another reason for the stoppage of the Commander production according to Schuster is the fact that the Commander is very much similar in size to the Grand Cherokee that was built on the same line at Jefferson North. Plus the fact that, "It didn't bring in different buyers."

Jeep sold 88,497 Commanders in 2006 by offering heavy discounts. The Edmunds web site which is a site for car shoppers has offered an average of $8,000 in incentives on the Commander in the last four months of 2006. The price for the Commander starts around $28,000 and can climb above $40,000.

The Jeep Commander have also toppled the Grand Cherokee in terms of sales last year when it sold 139,148 while the Cherokee which was once one of Americas most popular vehicles was down by 75,000 units.

Erich Merkle, an analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids said, "It's a logical move to get rid of the Commander given the small incremental sales increases. The Commander has had a dramatic negative impact on the Grand Cherokee." The Commander same with other large SUVs have been affected by the ever changing gas prices and increasing concerns by consumers over gas mileage.

"The product is not moving with consumers and obviously that situation is exacerbated by the continued focus on where gas prices are going to be over the next few years," said Catherine Madden, an analyst with Waltham, Mass.-based Global Insight Inc.

The slow sales of the Commander have resulted to the discontinuing work at the Jefferson North plant for the last four months. And for this month production at Jefferson North is scheduled to be down for three weeks and expected to resume on January 29 as confirmed by union officials. And as for every seven Cherokees that will be produced, three Commanders will be taken off the line.

The Commander is powered by a 4.7 liter V-8 engine and get 15 mpg for city driving and 19mpg for highway driving, that is according to the EPA. According to Merkle, "If your fuel economy is going to be that bad, go for something that's larger and more interior space and a true third row.?br />
But according to dealers the Commander has been very successful at attracting buyers into showrooms with its roomy interior and third row seats which is considered a first for a Jeep. The only problem that Mike Rhiel of Mike Riehls Roseville Chrysler Jeep sees is timing. That (SUV) was launched when fuel prices went up. It didn't have a fair launch because of fuel prices.?He also further stated that sales could rebound if gas prices are to stay near $2 a gallon. Or "if fuel stays down that (SUV) could get some legs," he said.

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