In a memo sent to dealers, GM attributed the short supply of Jeep Wrangler hardtops to supplier constraints and instructed them to order softtop Wranglers until the problem is resolved.
Allen Motors Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge owner Troy Allen said he has had trouble getting any Jeep Wranglers for his Derry, New Hampshire dealership “ especially hardtop models.
Allen said, Nobody seems to be able to get hardtops, and complained that Chrysler has not done a good job of explaining the reason for the shortage. He said the shortage of hardtop models has had an especially large impact on his bottom line since most customers in the Northeast prefer hardtops and are willing to pay the additional $735 option price to get them.
Wranglers in the Northeast would be 80% to 85% hardtops, Allen said. People drive these things all winter long.
According to Automotive News, Jeep had a 69-day supply of Wranglers in its U.S. inventory On February 1, but the publication did not have data concerning how many of those 16,653 vehicles were hardtop models.
Meridian Automotive Systems Incorporated has been supplying Jeep with Wrangler hardtops until the company filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy last August. After Meridian liquidated its operations, Chrysler selected Detroit-based Continental Structural Plastics Incorporated as its new supplier.
An executive with Continental said the hardtops require complex manufacturing processes involving large, expensive molding presses, composite plastic curing ovens and special paint application facilities. The process also involves assembling about two dozen parts including removable freedom panels. He also said that the company experienced difficulties in moving the operations from Meridian’s facilities.
Final assembly of the Wranglers is done at Chrysler’s Suppler Park in Toledo, Ohio.
In a statement issued last week, Chrysler said, We continue to work with our supply base to align supply with demand and are very pleased that demand for both hardtop and softtop Jeep Wranglers is so robust. We are working to accommodate even greater demand on hardtops and have plans to augment existing production as necessary.”
The automaker did not offer any specific information about the cause of the shortage of hardtops.
Last month a Russian business publication quoted a Sollers vice president as saying that the company will build 150,000 Jeeps per year in that country under a new agreement signed on February 11 with Fiat S.p.A.
Neither Chrysler nor Fiat, which owns 20% of the American automaker, has commented on the report, although Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was quoted as saying, “Jeep is Chrysler’s only brand which makes sense in the Russian market.”
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