Chrysler executives have reportedly confirmed that either the Jeep Liberty (known here as the Cherokee) or the Dodge Nitro will be phased out by 2012. Both of these mid-size SUVS are built on the same production line in Toledo, Ohio, and share the same platform and engine lineup, and - to be brutally honest - they look like rather lazy copies of one another.
Ditching one nameplate and ramping up production of the other would enable Chrysler (Jeep and Dodge's parent company) to eliminate the costly practice of producing two nearly identical cars which don't sell, and concentrate on building one vehicle that does hit all the right targets in the showroom.
In an interview with the Toledo Blade, Vice President of North American Sales at Chrysler Steven Landry said that both the Nitro and the Liberty were nowhere near capable of achieving their sales targets while the other model existed.
"If you put sales of Liberty and Nitro together, it's doing what we want it to do," Mr. Landry said.
"As we move toward 2012, we won't have this dual branding. That's when we'll just come back with one branded body of those particular vehicles instead of two."
It's all a part of Chrysler's Project Genesis program, which aims to cut back on duplicate vehicles within the Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge stables, and re-equip North American dealerships to sell all three brands from their forecourts. Like many other American automakers, Chrysler is under enormous pressure to cut back on unnecessary spending and wastage in order to bring its ledgers back into the black, and rationalising its vehicle lineup will play a large part in this effort.
With its poorer sales and narrower appeal, it's likely the Nitro will be the one to get the boot. We won't know for sure until Chrysler makes a formal announcement, however many pundits are confident that the un-loved Dodge is not long for this world.
No complaints here.