Despite a waning consumer appetite for SUVs, the Chrysler Aspen is not too late to the party says Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development for the Chrysler group. He spoke with Staff Reporter Mary Connelly.
You are unveiling the Chrysler Aspen SUV based on the Dodge Durango. Isn't it late to bring out a large SUV?
The full-size utility market is 50 percent of SUVs. The SUV market hasn't collapsed. It is still actually very high-volume.
We think we have a more efficient package. We'll offer more content, more features, more efficiency at a lower price than Chrysler-brand competitors.
This is very good positioning for Chrysler to have this vehicle in place.
Will you add more diesel-fueled vehicles, given the renewed fuel consciousness?
We have diesel in the Liberty today and in the Chrysler 300C and Grand Cherokee in Europe. At the end of the day, you look at a spread of 5 to 15 percent hybrids, 5 to 15 percent light-duty diesel, and the rest are gasoline.
Are the 300 and Grand Cherokee at the top of your list then for the United States?
European standards don't directly translate to U.S. emission standards. U.S. emission standards are tougher on diesels. Another factor is that diesel fuel quality in the U.S. has a significantly higher sulfur content.