The Caliber: Chryslers Streak of Hope

By: Lisa Ziegler

Drastic times calls for drastic measures. With the future of the Chrysler Group on the brink, all analysts agree that the best thing that could happen to the 3,600 workers at the DaimlerChrysler assembly plant is for their three models to become hits in the market. This may sound like a shot on the moon but its better to have one inconceivable plan than nothing.

According to John Wolknowicz, senior analyst at Massachusetts-based Global Automotive Group, the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass have been disappointments so far.

It is no secret that starting from the launching of the Compass all it has received were criticisms. The more rounded look that is far from the traditional boxy Jeep style has gained so much disapproval. On the other hand, where the Compass failed is where the Caliber excelled. The general feel of the Caliber was considered a successful new look in the compact car market.

It only took 10 months for the Caliber to sell more than 92,000 Calibers in the United States. In 2005, dealers were also able to sell 119,000 Neons that is despite the fact that the supply ceases due to the halting of its production. Wolkonowicz said that Global Automotive is predicting that Caliber sales will grow to 100,000 in United States by 2009 before declining back.

Last February, Calibers were selling on average in 50 days and to think that the average time for a compact car was 54 days. The competition of the Calibers in the compact car segment includes big names such as Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Mazda 3. And through March 18, the Caliber's time on lots has reduced to 49 days compared with the 55 days segment average.

Libby said, "The Chrysler Group is up around 100 and 110" average days on lots. Chrysler has lots of models doing very poorly. The Caliber is one of its success stories."

If there's one thing that Wolkonowicz and Libby agree on, it's their comment on the Jeep's Compass. Since the Compass hit dealerships last June, its time on lots has been steadily increasing and through March 18, the poor Compass has taken 85 days to sell against the crossover SUV average of 69 days. In fairness to the Compass its failure is not in terms of quality since Jeep has loaded it with remarkable features and make used of quality car components such as in building it. Unfortunately the Compass is short in appeal that's why it didn't meet up with the styling preference of buyers.

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