Cherokee delay stretches US dealer’s patience image

As Chrysler is still validating and testing the new nine-speed transmission, Jeep dealers would like to get their hands on the new 2014 Cherokee sooner rather than later, but more importantly, they want the new SUV to be right.

Chrysler delayed the first shipments of the new Cherokee due to a desire to improve the new nine-speed transmission the SUV uses. Without providing any real detail about what’s wrong with new drivetrain, the automaker seems to be bent on making sure it doesn’t have a repeat of the problems it faced with the slow start of the Dodge Dart last summer.

“I don’t want to sell 35 Cherokees in a month and have 34 come back to the service department the next month,” said David Kelleher, a member of Chrysler’s national dealer council and a dealer in Philadelphia, speaking about the delays and problems the company is facing.

“The company will not ship vehicles until we are fully satisfied the Cherokee meets customer expectations for performance, refinement and quality,” the company said in a statement.

“The 2014 Jeep Cherokee has an all-new nine-speed transmission, two new powertrains, three advanced four-wheel-drive systems and has undergone more than 14 million test miles in order to ensure the vehicle meets our highest quality standards. Once the latest powertrain calibration is validated, the company will be able to quickly update the powertrain software on Cherokees already built and ship vehicles to dealership around the country in quantity.”

The automaker is completing the testing of the recalibrated nine-speed transmission jointly developed by Chrysler and ZF Group and made by Chrysler in Kokomo, Ind.

A Chrysler official noted today that the company has always pegged the third quarter of this year as the delivery date for the new SUV, which is expected to battle the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and other compacts for sales.
The new transmission hasn’t been officially tied to any other product and a company spokesperson declined to speculate on whether or not it will be in any other products or if the testing includes changes needed for any other vehicles.