Can Jeep’s big launches steer clear of global microchip shortage?

Steve Wolf, dealer principal of Helfman Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Fiat in Houston, said he expects the automaker to protect the Wagoneer models, which he dubbed the automaker’s “golden calves,” however it needs to in the face of the chip shortage.

Wolf said he recently got assurances from senior management that the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L will arrive as promised. For now, he has enough Gladiators, Wranglers, Grand Cherokees and Ram pickups to hold him over.

A delay for the Wagoneer, expected to begin production in June, would be a drag, Wolf said, but he could deal with taking a little bit longer to be able to go head-to-head with the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade.

“I’ve been waiting for a full-size SUV since 1989, and I finally got it, so another couple months aren’t going to make that big of a difference,” Wolf said.

“Truthfully, that’s a plus business anyway because we’ve never had a representation in that full-size SUV segment. It’s all incremental business for me.”

If the chip shortage stretches beyond summer, it could complicate the rollout of the redesigned two-row Grand Cherokee in the third quarter.

The Detroit plant that makes the Dodge Durango and two-row Grand Cherokee, Jeep’s top seller, began temporary layoffs last week and will operate with a smaller work force throughout May. The adjacent, newly built plant that will make the Grand Cherokee L has not had downtime.

Plants that build the Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Compass were scheduled to remain down this week, Stellantis said. The Ram Classic plant in suburban Detroit that will assemble the Wagoneers went dark in late March and isn’t expected back online for at least several more weeks.

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