NEW YORK –LLC’s product-development chief says the launch of the new-for-’11 Jeep Grand Cherokee could run into a short delay now that Corp. has walked away from supplying the cross/utility vehicle’s wiring harnesses.
“It’ll be within shouting distance, a couple weeks one way or the other,”Vice President Frank Klegon tells Ward’s during an interview at the auto show here.
Klegon confirmswill not provide wiring harnesses to the Grand Cherokee and has been replaced as the supplier by Corp. “Lear is out,” he says.
Lear will continue to provide the harnesses through pilot build of the new Grand Cherokee, followed by a transition phase beforetakes over full time for the production model, Klegon says.
Scheduled to debut next year, the Grand Cherokee migrates to a true unibody platform, showcasing new features such as an adjustable air-suspension setup, variable-terrain 4-wheel-drive system and a dual-pane sunroof dubbed CommandView that extends from the windshield to the rear of the vehicle.
The Grand Cherokee also gets bigger and receives a more powerful V-6 engine, but fuel-economy improves 11% over the previous model.
The new model will be assembled at Chrysler’s Jefferson Ave. plant in Detroit. The site was earmarked for a $1.8 billion retooling effort to accommodate the new platform.
Klegon also estimates between 30% and 40% of the auto maker’s fleet could be electrified within the next several years to help it achieve stricter fuel-economy regulations and possible carbon-dioxide emissions rules.
“That does not mean full-hybrid or full-electric, it could be something as simple as start/stop, which gives you anywhere from a 5% to 6% improvement in fuel economy,” he says.
Klegon is confident Chrysler will achieve new government fuel-economy and emissions standards, as long as the targets are within reason.
For the ’11 model year, auto makers face a corporate average fuel economy increase to 27.3 mpg (8.6 L/100 km), averaging cars and trucks together, or 2 mpg (0.8 km/L) higher than the ʼ10 model year average. The increase is the first along the way to 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) by 2020.
At the same time, the Obama Admin. has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to look at regulating tailpipe emissions, perhaps using a template standard from the California Air Resources Board equal to 36 mpg (6.1 L/100 km) by 2016 and 43 mpg (5.4 L/100 km) by 2020.
“The CARB standard is pretty challenging, and it’s way too short of a time (period),” Klegon says. “You’ll have certain cars that will make it, but on a fleet average it would be very difficult for us.”