A report in The Wall Street Journal looks at some of the obstacles to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee that go beyond its mootable yet “very contemporary” looks, almost all of them based on Fiat’s financial position. Starting with that sheetmetal, in defense of it SRT president Ralph Gilles and Jeep design head Mark Allen said they wanted to “make sure the design still looks modern five years from now.”
The WSJ piece doesn’t cite longevity as a factor, instead saying that its features originated in a design for an Alfa Romeo, the transformation into a Jeep design meant allowing Chrysler get it to market more quickly and save “hundreds of millions of dollars” in engineering.
The need for Fiat to save money while it weathers the European situation has cut budgets for development, engineering and the pace of retooling the Toledo, Ohio plant to build the Cherokee. In a familiar case of snowballing at work, among the effects will be pushing back the Cherokee’s volume sales date and delaying updates to some of Chrysler’s other products.
Things will get better when Chrysler can work through its program and get the Cherokee to dealers in bulk – especially if it finds it really can sell 250,000 per year – but the hurdles won’t help the financials in the short term.