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Will Chrysler and GM Ever Make an Affordable SUV Hybrid?

Posted on March 21, 2009
Filed Under Future Speculation, Hybrid SUV, Industry News | Leave a Comment

gm-chrysler-general-motorsWith the Calgary Herald reporting that any merger between Chrysler and General Motors (GM) is “off the table,” and the Big Three Auto Makers in Detroit trying to figure out how to stay alive, I still ponder their green initiative.  It has always been on the forefront of my mind and only in 2009 is Chrysler even offering an SUV hybrid.  As a former Chrysler dealer, we were always told at the rah, rah meetings that Chrysler’s hybrid was their diesel line. Wow, what a sales pitch!

Of the Big Three, only Ford has an affordable SUV, the 2009 Ford Escape that starts at $29,645 for a base model and $33,000 if you want all the extras.  GM’s hybrid SUVs are made for the elite when you look at the Yukon priced at $50,920 for a base model and the Cadillac Escalade is a whopping $73,135 for a base.  But if you can afford that, you can probably afford a couple thousand more for the sound and navigation systems for your new Escalade. Chrysler is no better offering a base Aspen for $45,270 and a base Durango hybrid SUV for $45,040.

Of course there are the foreign auto companies that offer quality SUV hybrids at affordable prices, but if you’re a baby boomer like me, our aim is to buy American.  Sure, I know that the foreign auto makers have plants in North America but somehow our parents dredged into our minds that buying American was the patriotic thing to do.  I remember my father who was called by his maker in 1982 looking at a Chevy Malibu brochure week after week at the dinner table.  He never got that vehicle, but he sure did get his point across on how he felt about buying a Toyota or Honda.

Rick Wagoner, CEO of GM told Daily Wealth in a recent interview that, “it’s hard being the captain of the Titanic.”  Wow, that doesn’t inspire much confidence!  Bob Nardelli, CEO of Chrysler blames the congressional hearings and investigation into the Big Three for consumer fallout and lack of trust.  “I think it’s going to take a while to repair the damage done by them,” he told the Calgary Herald.  I’m a little mad and gosh as a former Chrysler dealer I can tell you that instead of coming out with those expensive hybrids, why didn’t Chrysler put an end to the dealer cash they give the dealers on selected models to help push their inventory?  Often, dealer cash can be as much as $8,000 and that’s money the consumer never sees!  Maybe some of that dealer cash could have been utilized more wisely–like exploring how to make a cheaper SUV hybrid.

I like to think of myself as being the glass if half full kind of person and somehow I just don’t think the government is going to let any of the Big Three fail.  Perhaps I’m wrong or way off the path here, but at some point, Uncle Sam will step in to save Detroit and help bring jobs back.  Whether Chrysler and GM’s hybrid SUVs will survive is to be seen, especially with those hefty price tags.  I say they start from scratch or hire an engineer from Ford to figure out what they are doing wrong.  Right now, if you want a GM or Chrysler SUV hybrid, you better be one of the elite or you won’t be able to afford them.

Living green means doing your part by driving green, but if the average consumer can’t afford what the Americans are putting out, what other option do we have but to buy foreign?  Kudos to Ford for trying, even if Detroit looks pretty grim these days.  I, for one, will keep my hopes up for improvement.  When you look at both GM and Chrysler’s websites, they have all sorts of things they are promising to help our environment, but it sure isn’t making a green hybrid SUV.  Well, I’ve said my peace, it’s time to tear the kids away from their Lee Iacocca and Dieter Zetsche action figure dolls.

SOURCE: Examiner.com

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