Chrysler to End PT Cruiser, Seek Buyer for Equipment (Update1)
By Mike Ramsey
Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler LLC, pruning its lineup to save money, will stop building the PT Cruiser this year and is seeking buyers for the equipment used to make the model, President Tom LaSorda said.
Production “ends this summer,” LaSorda said today in a telephone interview. “Would we sell those assets? Yes. Do we have any offers to sell those assets? No. Would we be pursuing a buyer? Yes.”
The PT Cruiser, with a rounded body to mimic 1930s-style station wagons, would be the seventh model to be canceled since Cerberus Capital Management LP bought Chrysler in August 2007. The third-largest U.S. automaker is using $4 billion in federal loans to stay in business while reshaping operations to end losses.
“The need for that product has passed,” said John Wolkonowicz, a product analyst at consulting firm IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “It created a buzz back in 2000, but it’s outlived its usefulness.”
Classified as a truck, the PT Cruiser has four passenger doors and a liftgate at the back. The model once targeted to appeal to younger buyers instead ended up attracting older consumers looking for a cargo-hauling vehicle, Wolkonowicz said.
Without the PT Cruiser, the Chrysler badge will appear only on the Town & Country minivan and Sebring and 300C sedans. Models dropped under Cerberus are the Dodge Magnum station wagon and Durango sport-utility vehicle, and the Chrysler Crossfire sports car, PT Cruiser convertible, and Aspen and Pacifica SUVs.
Rick Deneau, a spokesman for Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler, declined to elaborate on LaSorda’s remarks, following the company’s practice of not confirming cancellations until they’re formally announced.
U.S. sales of the PT Cruiser plunged 49 percent last year to 50,910 units, outpacing Chrysler’s 30 percent slide and the 18 percent tumble in the domestic auto market. Deliveries peaked at 144,717 in 2001, according to Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Chrysler builds the PT Cruiser at an assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico.
Chrysler has said it is trying to sell its Dodge Viper sports-car brand, and it will discontinue production of its Jeep Commander SUV, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.