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Chrysler says it has Wrangler hard-top shortage covered

Fri, 19 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Chrysler Group says it has solved the problem that caused a shortage of hard tops for Jeep Wranglers.

Michael Manley, CEO of the Jeep brand, said there will be two production increases of the hard tops--one in early April and the second in late April.

“We’ve been working to increase hard-top capacity,” Manley said at a Jeep event Thursday. “Wrangler demand is tremendous.”

Some dealers had experienced shortages of Wranglers, particularly hard tops, since Chrysler’s bankruptcy last summer.

In late February, the company told dealers there would be a shortage of hard tops for the popular Wrangler for several months because of a “supplier constraint.”

Chrysler urged dealers to sell soft-top Wranglers to customers in the meantime.

But the removable hard-top version is much more popular than the soft top. Hard tops typically account for 70 percent of customer demand for Wranglers, but that number recently has lifted to 80 to 85 percent, Manley said.

The shortage of hard tops was caused by the bankruptcy of the original supplier, Meridian Automotive Systems Inc., which filed for Chapter 7 in August 2009. Continental Structural Plastics Inc. has since taken over the business.

Manley said Jeep will be offering customers a greater choice of hard-top options, including colored tops that match the body paint.

Jeep sold 82,044 Wranglers in the United States in 2009, a 3 percent decline from 2008 in an overall market that plunged 21 percent. Sales figures do not break out the percentage of hard- and soft-top sales.

By Bradford Wernle- Automotive News