Last post on Oct 23, 2006 at 1:11 AM
You are in the Chrysler/Plymouth Voyager, Dodge Caravan
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Dodge Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Voyager, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Town and Country, Van
#992 of 4276 Future of DaimlerChrysler
Jan 05, 2002 (11:43 am)
eneth, you have made some pretty good points regarding Chrysler's past reliability and safety records. However, I do not believe that the situation Chrysler is in now is mainly because of their questionable reliability and safety record. Chrysler was doing better in 1998 before it was bought by Mercedies than it is now, mainly because of all the harmful changes that were made to managment by the Germans from Mercedies. I have read countless articles about how Mercedies has totally changed Chrysler, both in good and bad ways. Chrysler quality has definetly improved since the merger in 1998. That is without a doubt. Every year the quality ratings for many Chrysler products, especially their minivans, has improved.
As for whether or not Chrysler needs people like me, they really do. I know there are alot of Chrysler "mopar" fans out there, and I am one of them, but they need more people who have had positive experiences with DC products. I have a neighbor with a 1997 Town & Country LXi with 70k miles that has no problems and I also have a good friend with a 2000 Town & Country Limited with over 30k miles and they also have not experienced any problems with their van.
I think Honda and Toyota will continue to steal sales away from the DC minivan market share, but that is to be expected. Despite this, I think DC will always sell the most minivans. They offer such a wide range of models from the luxurious Town & Country Limited to the base Caravan SE with prices and equipment that can appeal to almost anyone. I think enough people have had positive experiences with DC minivans to keep them comming back again, or as long as they are looking for another van.
I really like the Odyssey more and more. I would really like a 2002 Odyssey EX-L with the gold paint as I saw one yesterday in San Francisco and I really thought it looked nice. I like the new rims on the EX and the new grille and rear end with the yellow tail lights. I also like the increased power for 2002 with the 3.5L V6. I should really stop by my local Honda dealership and ask them if I can test drive one.
Anyway, I just got back from the Chrysler dealership for the PT Cruiser's 12k mile oil/filter change and I spoke with one of the salesmen there who was telling me about the Odyssey. He said that in 2003 Chrysler will, indeed, offer a slightly depowered version of the 3.5L 24-valve V6 found in the current 300m model in order to compete with the Odyssey. I don't think the torquey 12-valve 215hp V6 currently offered is enough to keep up with the Odyssey's 3.5L engine.
Jan 05, 2002 (12:49 pm)
I think too many people assume "Mercedes ruined Chrysler" - and that in fact, it was the former Chrysler management (Eaton, et. al.) who knew what was coming, and who bailed out while the bailing was good. Chrysler was headed for a fall; it would have happened whether or not the takeover had come to pass - just as it did many times in the past (more than GM or Ford, Chrysler has a history of boom-then-bust, and the former management knew the bust was coming). Some of it had to do with the economy - but much of it was Chrysler's own making. Styling appeal will only carry you so far if the substance is lacking, and it surely was with most Chrysler products of the 90s. Chrysler Group is paying a price directly as a result of its poor management decisions and its underengineering - ironically, Lee Iacocca had pulled up Chrysler's reputation through the 1980s, only to have it fall again after his exit, with the release of the trouble-plagued transmissions, minivans with safety problems, poorly designed antilock braking systems, and other engineering gaffes that at one point were costing Chrysler over $800 _per unit_ in warranty costs - the highest such warranty costs in the industry.
Eaton, et. al., knew what was coming, and new Chrysler's profit streak was about to end, as it would be forced to engineer more substantial products. And far from being duped by Juergen Schrempp, et. al., I believe they put one over on Daimler Benz, which might not have been so eager to take over had it known what the true problems with Chrysler were (you've got to wonder about the quality of the due diligence done by Daimler-Benz in taking over the U.S. automaker with the poorest reputation for quality, considering its jealous guarding of its own reputation - so the blame isn't entirely on the shoulders of the former Chrysler management).
The one almost certainty is that this genearation of minivans will be Chrysler Group's last in terms of engineering - it is very apparent that all of Chrysler Group's front-drive platforms are going to be replaced by Mitsubishi (or Mitsubishi-Hyundai) platforms, and that the more expensive models will end up as Mercedes platforms - though it probably would have steadfastly denied that plan a year ago, it's becoming very apparent that DaimlerChrysler has accepted the fact that platform sharing is going to be inevitable to reduce costs and stay in the game.
In that sense, what was "Mopar" is here and now - but it won't be tomorrow.
It'll be interesting to see how the designs of tomorrow differ from those of today - and it's a very rocky course that DaimlerChrysler has ahead of it, because the competition from Toyota and GM will grow stronger every day.
I just read an article about Toyota's plans for a Mexican assembly plant, which noted this: Toyota and DaimlerChrysler are separated by only 500,000 units a year now. All it would take is one more Toyota plant beyond that one, or one closed Chrysler plant, to close that gap.
And if it escaped notice, Toyota is planning an expansion of its Princeton, Indiana plant (where the Sequoia and Tundra are built) to produce Sienna minivans - so Chrysler Group's lead in minivans will erode still further in the next couple of years.
There's not much certain in these ecnonomic times - but this much is: Toyota has a laser sight set on DaimlerChrysler, and the next generation of Sienna will be one of the biggest salvos it has shot in that direction. Being able to back it up with a 250,000 per year production capacity won't make the going any easier for DaimlerChrysler.
#994 of 4276 There is still hope
Jan 05, 2002 (3:50 pm)
I don't know how realistic such a dismal future such as the one eneth has described will come to pass for Chrysler. We will see what happens over the next few years. There are still some markets where Chrysler is still doing rather well.
Of course, Chrysler still has the lead in the minivan market. The Town & Country has seen a huge sales increase over the years and outsells Honda Odyssey. The Dodge Caravan, despite a steep fall in sales, is still the best selling minivan by a huge margin.
The PT Cruiser is still a hot car even after being on the market for over 2 years and price gouging is still going on at certain dealerships. Also, the new RAM 1500 has been redesigned and is sure to put a larger dent in the truck sales of GM, Ford, and Toyota.
The line of Sebring convertables/sedans/coupes are doing alot better now than they were under the Cirrus and Stratus names. The Sebring convertable is still one of the most popular drop-tops in the country.
Jeep has been doing pretty well, especially with the new Liberty. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the #2 best selling SUV in the country, right behind the Ford Explorer.
So, not all is bad in the land of Chrysler. While it will most likey get worse before it gets better, there is still a light at the end of the tunel that gets closer everday. Only time will tell...
Jan 05, 2002 (4:07 pm)
I'm not so sure the picture is that rosy. The Chrysler Voyager hasn't picked up where the Plymouth left off - lost sales. The Neon is selling poorly and the PT Cruiser, after an initial burst of interest, has started to trail off (you can now buy one easily just about anywhere, and I believe you'll find that it has not met with sales success in Europe - DaimlerChrysler suspended production plans at the Eurostar plant in Austria, because it couldn't justify the extra capacity - that's a long way from a year ago when demand outstripped supply).
The Sebring convertible is a niche car and won't carry the day - sales numbers are too small.
The Liberty has come under fire for early recalls that should have been fixed before production began, and is under fire from a couple of testing organizations for its tendency to roll over in sharp maneuvers - not an auspicious beginning for a new model, given that Jeep has been hurt by that problem before (with the CJ-5).
Yes, the Grand Cherokee still sells well - at heavy discounts.
About the best DaimlerChrysler can hope for with the new Ram is to regain what it lost in the last couple of model years - the real action in trucks is now focused on GM, which may wrest best-seller status from Ford for the first time in 20+ years. Remember that Chrysler Group is closing one of the two main production plants (Mexico) that makes the Ram - so supply won't be as plentiful as it was before (and they must know that, or they'd not have slated the plant for closure).
Chrysler Group isn't taking anything away from Toyota - as I recall, Chrysler's sales were down about 9% overall for 2001 - and Toyota's were up about 7-8%, and in all categories.
What Chrysler needs is a smash-hit, home-run vehicle to build some momentum. For a while, that looked like it was to be the PT Cruiser - but it's not showing much staying power (and isn't all that profitable for the company anyway, since it's at heart a small car). The 2001 vans _should_ have been a that smash-hit home run - but they're not; it's taken expensive rebates and low interest financing to get people to buy them at all - while Honda hasn't had to resort to that with the Odyssey.
Chrysler has binned production plans for several new models because of production costs and is banking its sedan business on an automaker that isn't particularly strong (Mitsubishi). A resurgent Nissan won't make the recovery of that automaker any easier.
Chrysler Group is still stuck with a product mix that is too dependent on trucks (so is Ford) - that market is more volatile than one with a broader product mix, such as is offered by GM. GM will only get stronger in the car business as the new Delta and Epsilon projects come online in Europe, Asia and in the U.S. - and GM's alliances with complementary automakers (Fuji, Honda, Suzuki, FIAT) will only make the going even tougher in the next five years.
It would surprise me not at all to see that within the next five to ten years, most of Chrysler Group's cars disappear, leaving the trucks, vans and Jeeps - and DaimlerChrysler to focus on its Korean partner (Hyundai) for production of bread-and-butter cars and trucks, perhaps in combination with Mitsubishi.
Chrysler is by no means done downsizing itself.
Jan 05, 2002 (4:41 pm)
The DC story is quite sad according to NBC news this evening. They say it looks like DC will lose 4 to 5 billion, Ford 2 billion, and GM will make a little bit. Not a great outlook for the country, as when the big 3 bleed, everyone bleeds.
#997 of 4276 The DC situation may not be overly bright....but NOT as dismal as naysayers proclaim
Jan 05, 2002 (4:59 pm)
Too many people own DC minivans, love them, and have had no problems. Former DC minivan owners who bought a DC because the original little underpowered boxes on wheels called minivans made in Japan simply did not satisfy American customers. Many of these people naturally will return to the Japanese brand now they make decent minivans.
When Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda copied DC's original success with a Volkswagen idea, the Americans who had driven Japanese brand small cars started buying the Japanese brand that they loved as a car.
Brand loyalty is important.
I test drove a 2002 Odyssey EX-NAV-L 12/29 and was very impressed with the improved power, ride, and quietness over the 2001 Odyssey EX. The Odyssey is a nice minivan.
However, the question still comes back to me: Do I want to give up the extra nice comfort and convenience features I get on a DC minivan? One leaky head gasket has not convinced me that my friends were not telling the truth when they said they had no problems with any of their DC minivans. Many are now driving their 3rd DC minivan based on past satisfaction.
Most problems with DC minivans are for pre-99 models. There are simply not as many problems being reported in the Town Hall on DC minivans as there are for the Odyssey and Sienna.
#998 of 4276 Out of Warranty 167 miles, Check Engine Light is on!!!
Jan 05, 2002 (6:06 pm)
Well, I tried to give Chrysler a fair shake. I bought a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport new in '99. The trans had to be rebuilt under warranty at 32,000 miles last September. It currently has 36,167 mile on it. I had it to the dealer last week to cover concerns I had under the warranty before it expired at 36,000 miles. Today the wife comes home and the check engine light is on. What kind of crap is that? I am now over warranty by 167 miles. Will the dealer cover whatever is wrong?
Oh, I also bought a 2001 Dakota last spring. I think I need to dump both for a Ford or GM Product, which I was buying for the last 20 years. Never had these problems before.
#999 of 4276 Comments
Jan 05, 2002 (6:54 pm)
Chrysler has had at least one critically-acclaimed car in the past 5 years: the 300M. As I recall, wasn't it Motor Trend's COTY?
Also, here is one veteran owner of two Caravans over the past 10 years who will be looking elsewhere when my '99 GCS lease is up in 2004. By then, Honda and Toyota should have new generations of their vans out, Mazda's next-gen MPV may be out by the fall, a new Windstar should be available, and Nissan's new Quest might be ready (just saw an artist's conception of the showcar version of it in C/D, and it's one slick looking van). I'll also check out all the mid-sized SUVs and maybe some wagons. I'll still consider the Caravan in the mix, but it will still be the current generation, which I already know is not that much better IMO than my '99 GCS.
#1000 of 4276 What you are all missing
Jan 05, 2002 (7:39 pm)
in this great minivan market share debate is that the ENTIRE SEGMENT is melting away, a NATURAL occurance, not the result of what you think about DC. The minivan is a classic textbook product lifecycle in automotive history. An exciting new segment created and brought to market by a small innovative group of automotive industrialists who became associated with the product and benefited disproportionately as any inventor and innovator should. Of course Chrysler's market share has been slipping over the years, but not for the reasons stated by eneth et.al. Once a new, successful market niche is create, guess what?, it attracts competition. In the case of the minivan, the competition was incompetent in its early competitive efforts. How many pathetic, dead models have come and gone since 1984 from GM, Ford, Toyota etc. in their billion dollar effort to wrest share away from Chrysler? What the manufacturers are starting to realize is that the popularity of the minivan segment is NOT permanent, it is melting away as do all automotive trends. Remember the station wagon?
The first sign of the fall of the minivan market was the rising popularity of SUVs (didn't exist a few years ago). Now, the manufacturers are rushing to market with all kinds of new "cross-over" vehicles hoping against hope that they will hit on the next home run segment. They only wish that they could be as successful as Chrysler has been with the minivan idea. As far as DC's future, it cannot be based on the minivan because the market for this vehicle will erode and diffuse into new mutations, trends and fads. Do you think todays twenty-somethings want to drive minivans when they grow up? NEVER! The minivan will forever be associated with the late 20th Century and will be a thing of the past in another 10-15 years. So bring on the PT Cruisers, Crossfires, Neon SRT's. The company with the best CURRENT ideas will thrive in the future.