Chrysler CEO: Lesson learned from botched Cherokee launch

October 31, 2013

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne vowed on Wednesday that the company will never again repeat the mistakes that caused the delayed market launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it,” Marchionne told Automotive News.

Jeep started production of the Cherokee in June, but it wasn’t until last week that the automaker began shipping the SUV to dealers. That delay was the result of a software glitch with the Cherokee’s all-new nine-speed automatic transmission.

A fix took several months to develop as engineers were challenged with several other factors. In addition to the never-before-used nine-speed transmission, the Cherokee also features a new disconnecting drivetrain and two new engines.

“We were naïve that it would be a seamless introduction,” Marchionne said.

Adding insult to injury, Jeep shut down production of the Cherokee’s predecessor, the Liberty, in 2012, leaving the company without an entrant into the popular mid-size SUV segment for over a year. “We were just naked in 2013,” Machionne said.

With the launch issues now in the rearview mirror, Jeep’s Toledo factory is cranking out 1,000 Cherokees per day, six days a week.

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