Set to be EV-only by 2028, dealerships remain a little concerned.
After years of struggling to regain relevant product, the 100-year-old Chrysler brand is getting back on its feet one year after the merger of FCA and the PSA Groupe to create Stellantis. Now the world's fourth-largest automaker, CEO Carlos Tavares intends to give Chrysler (and Alfa Romeo) 10 years to turn themselves around, or else. Chrysler's plan to electrify its lineup by 2028 is a huge step in the right direction and dealerships are obviously thrilled. However, some concerns still remain.
Speaking to Automotive News, Dave Kelleher, chairman of the Stellantis National Dealer Council, said that "Nobody wanted to see the brand die because we know that our clients would find virtually any decent car acceptable if it had the Chrysler brand on it. To throw away a good brand like that, or to let a good brand like that pass away, would be unfortunate and not acceptable."
Although Kelleher and others are thrilled about Chrysler's upcoming plans, dealers are fretting over the expected investments they'll be required to make in order to install EV must-haves such as chargers and other related building renovations. Kelleher, for example, expects he'll have to install at least 18 chargers at his Pennsylvania dealer. Some dealers might even be looking at how rival GM handled Cadillac following the announcement that luxury marque will be making the EV switch.
Cadillac dealers had to invest a minimum of $200,000 for upgrades. If not, they'll lose the franchise. Many dealer owners decided to opt-out due to fears their traditional, more rural and older customers had no interest in EVs. But Chrysler is different in one very big way: Jeep.
A good chunk of Chrysler stores are Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram outlets. Jeep has already begun its EV transition with new models like the Wrangler 4xe. Ram will launch an all-electric 1500 truck for 2024. A production-spec version of the Chrysler Airflow concept looks like a strong possibility. Thanks to the EVs provided by other Stellantis brands, many Chrysler stores will already some at least infrastructure in place before 2028.
Aside from the Airflow, Chrysler will need to find proper replacements for the Pacifica minivan and aging 300 sedan. Chrysler needs to rediscover itself for the EV era with relevant product. Doing so should help gives dealers the confidence to invest.