Anyone who has nosed around a Dodge dealership recently knows how rare it is to see a Caliber sitting on the lot waiting to be sold.
This summer's higher gasoline prices have fueled demand. Women go for the Caliber more than most Dodge models, but men are buying, too. Goodness, they've even developed a taste for the Caliber on the Left Coast. Heck, Dodge is even moving the all-wheel-drive model with the CVT that leaves a lot to be desired.
Dealers can't get enough of them, and as a result there are waiting lists. Some dealers say they're grudgingly taking more of the considerably less popular Rams and Dakotas in an all-out attempt to pry a few more Calibers from the factory. Try as they might, though, there simply aren't any extra Calibers to be had.
Demand for the five-door hatchback with the rugged design is so strong that Chrysler added a third shift at the 40-year-old assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill.
Yes, there have been a couple of production issues at the factory that have trimmed output. And, of course, the plant also builds the Jeep Compass. Yet even with the extra shift, supply is tight because the automobile's aggressive styling appeals to car buyers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dealers in western Europe have sold 3,200 Calibers since the car went on sale there in June. And in some European markets, there is already a six-month waiting list.
That can be frustrating if you're an impatient customer. But for the Chrysler group, which is trying to fatten up its minuscule market share in Europe and keep an American factory humming, it's a good problem to have.
Edward Lapham is executive editor of Automotive News.