Ailing Chrysler Drops Hybrid SUV Just As It Goes On Lots

No sooner had Chrysler released its new hybrid SUV- a Dodge Durango 40% more efficient than its gas-only counterpart- than it has been forced to close the factory where both versions are produced in order to save on costs.
October 31, 2008, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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''This vehicle would have done a lot better three or four years ago,'' when demand for SUVs was greater,", said auto expert Jim Hall.

"Chrysler's decision leaves it without plans for any new hybrid models for at least a year. No other major automaker is more dependent on pickup trucks, SUVS and minivans, which have lost sales this year because of high gasoline price.

Ending production of the gasoline-electric models probably was an easy decision for Chrysler because of the cost of the hybrid system, which is made by General Motors Corp., said Hall.

Chrysler began touting the hybrids in the middle of this year, when the average U.S. retail gasoline price was reaching a record high $4.15 a gallon. Since the July 15 peak, the price tumbled 36 percent to $2.63 as of yesterday, according to motorist group AAA. Its hybrids get 40% better fuel economy in city driving than the gas-only versions."

Hybrid pickups, and even an all-electric vehicle are still planned for 2010.

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

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Published on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 in Bloomberg.com
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