Chrysler cuts summer break time as sales rise, inventories fall
DETROIT -- Chrysler Group, attempting to keep up with high demand and dwindling inventories, today said four of its plants will forego the traditional two-week summer shutdown and continue producing cars and trucks through July.
Chrysler said that its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit and its plants in Belvidere, Ill.; Toluca, Mexico; and Toledo Supplier Park in Ohio will operate throughout the summer in order to meet demand on some of the automaker's most popular products.
The company makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango at its Jefferson plant; the new Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass and Patriot in Belvidere; the Dodge Journey, Fiat 500 and Fiat Freemont in Toluca; and the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in Toledo.
Chrysler is fighting to replenish quickly disappearing inventories, with several of its vehicles sinking to less than a 40-day supply as of May 1. There is a 32-day supply of the Chrysler 200; a 36-day supply of the Dodge Charger; and a 17-day supply of the Dodge Avenger.
Automakers typically try to keep vehicles at a 60-day supply.
Dealers want more
Don Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls of Westbrook, Maine, has seen several models sell quicker than he can restock and says keeping the four plants open will help Chrysler dealers keep the sales going.
"The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the one model we'd love to have more of," he said. "They're been selling very well and we can't order enough to keep up with demand."
Lee says sales for his dealership are up about 20 percent this year. He says the Jeep Wrangler is another model that may be difficult to keep in stock in the coming weeks.
"We've stepped way up earlier in the year in anticipation of Wrangler sales, and we have a better supply of it than we do the Grand Cherokee," he said. "If sales continue, however, we'll certainly need more."
Chrysler has been experiencing growth far outpacing the industry. Its U.S. sales are up 33 percent to 539,216 vehicles in the first four months of the year. As a whole, the industry was up 10 percent during the period.
On Tuesday, Chrysler reported a 20 percent gain for April. The automaker said the first quarter was the most profitable since 1998's third quarter.
Chrysler also said its plants in Sterling Heights, Mich., and Saltillo, Mexico, plants will shut down for one week in the summer instead of the usual two.
The Sterling Heights Assembly Plant makes the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger and Lancia Flavia, while the Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant makes Ram light and heavy trucks.
Among Chrysler's top sellers, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has sales of 49,337 units over the first four months of 2012; the Jeep Wrangler has sales of 41,956; the 200 has sales of 44,981; and the Ram has sales of 88,590.
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