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.

''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

Full Story: Chrysler to Drop First Hybrids, After October Debut



Mike Lydon's picture

Detroit's woes

Detroit's big three are still running a mid-20th century business model in a 21st century world. Their whole approach to the business in the past 20 years proves this, as does this sad situation.

If they were smart, they would use what little capital they have left to retool their plants for all hybrids and electric cars, as well as partner with the ailing airlines to create trains of all types and their attendant infrastructure.

Their inability to diversify is killing them.

Mike Lydon's picture


Then why is it that other companies, such as Toyota, made investments years in advance to place their hybrid on the market? Why is it that Smartcars cannot be built fast enough. Moreover, Tata's $2,000 dollar ride promises to revolutionize driving in Asia--a potentially scary reality for a part of the world struggling to determine its future urban form.

Yes, it takes times to re-tool. However, the writing has been on the wall for a long time for America's top car companies. No doubt the car will remain a big part of American life, but Detroit must adapt its marketing, models and general approach to business to reflect the needs of 21st century consumers. What I mean by this is that they need to diversify what they make, and not just cars, to be a part of the re-urbanization of the 21st century. There is no reason the big three couldn't be the world's largest car manufacturer and transit builder. Likewise, they would do well to outcompete nimble companies like Zipcar to cut car-sharing rates on cars they themselves make!

The next 100 years are about innovation, not staying the course. I am so fed up with in the box thinking from America's "top" companies. If they stay the course they will be outmoded.


It ain't that easy

Given the lead time it takes to design and produce a new model (5-10 years), and evenmaking a substantial change to an existing model, the expectation that the automakers could just swap out big vehicles for little ones is ludicrous. I can't imagine how expensive it would be to keep several sets of tooling available in order to change product whenever the buying public gets hysterical and wants something else.

And now, of course, the price of gas is below where it was a year ago (as I suspected it would be). The fact is, few people really LIKE small cars. Everything else aside, most (myself included) would rather have a large vehicle, as they are more comfortable, and can carry more, whether it be people or things. I'm not sure what the answer is. I just know that instant flexibility cannot be expected of car manufacturers, and I don't hold them responsible for what's happened.

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