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Analysis: Chrysler Jeep still in deep water

Supermini customers can also look at a base-level Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta for less money than an Ypsilon, which starts at £10,750. Dealers will have to discount to shift models and a quick search for September-plate stock shows £2,000 off the Ypsilon list price. The Chryslers will have more kit as standard, but dealers will still find it difficult to compete.

Fiat Group management has described the Delta and Ypsilon models as being part of a bridging strategy, designed to re-establish the brand in the UK until new models appear.

Fiat Group UK confirmed it will be increasing its investment in marketing for both Chrysler and Jeep next year, so dealers can expect more help to increase brand awareness.

Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis, co-director for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, said: “Chrysler is one of those brands which seems to constantly swerve from crisis to crisis, but will not die.

“It has never been a mainstream brand in the UK, but it has a future if it can continue to maintain a business around a small volume of niche customers.”


Dealer attitudes

The most recent National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) Attitude Survey shows that while Chrysler Jeep may have its problems with product, there are still many positives associated with operating the franchises.

The NFDA asks each dealer network to score its manufacturer out of five in key areas related to their partnership.

Dealers rate Chrysler Jeep’s management team and communication highly, giving their partnership a score of 4.3, the same rating they gave it for ability to do day-to-day business.

Dealers believe Chrysler Jeep’s procedures and controls are fair and equitable, rating them at 4.1.

Chrysler Jeep’s product image problems are reflected in the survey, with dealers rating it at 2.9.

Margins on new cars are respectable, at 3.5 out of five, and the current level of low volumes means that stocking policies and supply was rated at 4.1. Dealers are also happy with new car targets, with the network rating Chrysler Jeep at 4.1 out of five.

Dealers rate the value of holding Chrysler Jeep franchises at 6.5 out of 10 and rated it at six out of 10 on whether dealers would recommend it as a business partner.


Dealer representation

Chrysler Jeep’s biggest representative is Arnold Clark Automobiles in Scotland, with seven sites. The group clearly understands how to make the franchise work. Most other dealer groups have reduced their exposure to the brands.

John Martin Group did have five sites in Scotland, but this has been reduced to one site in Edinburgh.

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