Tuesday 16 October 2007

Long wheelbase Jeep Grand Cherokee to replace Commander?

When the existing Jeep Commander goes out of production at the end of the decade, it will mark the end for the short-lived nameplate. That's because Chrysler has no plans to build a second-generation Commander.

Introduced at the New York auto show in 2005, the Commander will only go for one life cycle and cease production sometime around 2010. Slow sales and company reorganization — along with weak fuel economy and poor reviews — have doomed Jeep's seven-passenger 'ute.

However, Jeep will not let the seven-passenger market slip away. Once the Commander dies it will, in essence, be replaced by a long-wheelbase version of the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. Further, the next-gen Grand Cherokee is set to be built on a chassis shared with Mercedes-Benz.

Sources indicated this is still the plan even after the separation of Daimler and Chrysler. Obviously Chrysler's new management wants to save wherever possible — sharing the cost of chassis development (which is hugely expensive) is a great way to do that. That said, it would be wise to keep in mind that Chrysler is still in the midst of a turn around and anything is possible.

Jeep sold 88,000 Commanders in 2006 thanks to heavy discounts, averaging between $6,000 and $8,000. Analysts suspect the Commander mostly cannibalized sales of the slightly smaller Grand Cherokee, rather than bringing in new customers. The company sold 139,000 Grand Cherokees last year, down 75,000 from the previous year.

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