End of the road for Chrysler's PT Cruiser
Chrysler plans to end production of the once red-hot model after the 2009 model year, according to a news report.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Chrysler plans to stop production of the PT Cruiser, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The paper reported Friday that the automaker will drop the line after the 2009 model year. The move comes as Chrysler executives consider killing slower-selling models to help the company return to profitability.
Chrysler had said earlier this month that it would eliminate the PT Cruiser convertible. The company is also halting production of the Dodge Magnum, Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Crossfire.
By the end of the 2009 model year, the PT Cruiser will have enjoyed an extraordinary run. Introduced in 2000, the PT Cruiser was initially a hot property. Dealers were charging customers steep premiums over the car's low sticker price.
Since then, the PT Cruiser has had only a mild redesign, the 2006 model. This means that Chrysler will have been selling virtually the same car, with only minor alterations, for twice as long as most car models go before being completely redesigned and reengineered.
Although the PT Cruiser is still the fifth-most popular compact crossover in America, just behind the Chevrolet HHR, overall sales are down 27 percent this year, according to the Power Information Network.
Cruiser sales are on track to top 100,000 this year, a sales pace sufficient to justify its continued production, at least for now, Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau told CNNMoney.com earlier this month.
But Chrysler executives have struggled, even before the company's split from Daimler (Charts) and subsequent takeover by a private equity group, with how to redesign the retro-styled PT Cruiser without losing the vehicle's unique character.
Ultimately, it may have proved easier to drop the PT Cruiser name, jettisoning the expectations attached to the current model and giving designers greater flexibility in creating a replacement.
In other Chrysler news, the Journal reported that Chrysler is considering a drastic plan that would allow it to drop some overlapping Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep products and cut out underperforming dealerships.
Under the proposed plan outlined in the Journal, Chrysler dealers would sell all of the automaker's passenger cars under the Chrysler name. Dodge dealers would sell only pickup and commercial trucks, and Jeep dealers would sell only Jeep sport utility vehicles.