AUBURN HILLS – Chrysler Group plans to revamp advertising for the Pacifica sports tourer to promote its affordability following weak initial sales for the “segment-busting” vehicle, which already includes a $1,000 rebate.

The auto maker also is shipping lower-cost versions of the cross/utility vehicle to dealers, which Chrysler hopes will entice consumers into the showroom, and hopefully prompt some to move up to the more-expensive all-wheel-drive model.

New ads will promote Chrysler Pacifica’s value.

“(In terms of) the product, I wouldn’t change anything, other than maybe start at the left end of the product…(the) more value-oriented side,” says Joe Eberhardt, newly appointed executive vice president-global sales, marketing and service at Chrysler Group. “I probably would have focused more on the entry-level model in the launch period.”

Chrysler’s previous marketing leaders opted to flood dealers with high-content versions of the Pacifica with AWD, navigation systems and other optional equipment, pushing the price north of $36,000, which may have been too steep for the Chrysler brand. (See related story: Premature Crossfire, Strong Pacifica, Ram Help Chrysler)

“The customer, once they get in the showroom, will probably end up buying the higher-(content) vehicle,” he says. “If you don’t get them in the showroom because they feel the car is out of their reach, then the whole up-sale process will not happen. I think there was a little of that, where we weren’t even on the shopping list.”

Nevertheless, Chrysler has seen sales of the Pacifica rebound of late. Volumes were at 6,642 units in June, with 11,470 sold since the vehicle’s launch earlier this year.

Eberhardt says Chrysler now is focusing on communicating the value Pacifica offers. A new series of advertisements defining the CUV’s value and attributes is under final development.

The lessons learned from the Pacifica launch will help Chrysler as it prepares to launch other vital products, including the upcoming line of large cars, especially the Chrysler 300 C.

“The next challenge for us clearly is 300 C,” Eberhardt says. “We need to pull (customers) from other brands and that message has to be different than the one to our current large-car platform customers, who will see the product in a different light.” (See related story: Chrysler Design Teams Focus on Quality)