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Jeep in Mopar parts push

First up:Performance enhancing parts from the Mopar collection are envisaged initially for Neon.

The launch of the PT Cruiser, new products for dealers to sell and a push for Mopar parts - it's a busy time for Chrysler Jeep Australia

Jeep logo28 Jun 2000

CHRYSLER Jeep Australia is considering a strategy to add Mopar performance parts and corporate apparel sales to its dealer network.

The push will follow in the wake of the Australian launch of the PT Cruiser, which goes on sale at $33,400 on August 1.

It also follows the development of new products for dealers to sell such as a factory-backed extended warranty package which doubles the original three years/60,000km coverage.

The PT Cruiser will allow the 70-strong dealer network to sell a wide range of add-on accessories while factory-approved performance enhancing parts from the Mopar collection are envisaged initially for Neon.

Sales of apparel across Chrysler and Jeep brands will also be stepped up, with much of the clothing Australian made.

At present, Jeep owners splash an average of $600 extra per vehicle on accessories, notably Grand Cherokee buyers who opt for the locally produced bull bar at about $2500.

However as the Chrysler sales footprint increases, the total spend on accessories will increase but the average across the range will fall to about $400 per vehicle.

That's because many Neon owners will not spend a cent but PT Cruiser buyers may add alloy wheels ($1600), body kit ($1000) or stick-on flames ($350).

The average industry dealer-fit accessory spend is said to be little more than $50 per vehicle.

Australian-made accessories such as the stick-on flames and locally-developed parking sensor system may also be exported to other Chrysler markets.

A chrome radiator grille kit is under consideration, made in Australia, while an all-round body kit comprising front and rear spoilers and side skirts is close to production reality for about $1000, and painted by the dealer.

According to the senior executive for Chrysler Jeep Australia aftersales Mr Derek MacNeil, the PT Cruiser will not only offer look-at-me extras.

He suggests Chrysler could be the first to offer a factory-backed, integrated entertainment system for PT Cruiser, Voyager and Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers later this year. The pack includes fold-down video screens to pipe video, DVD films and Sony Playstation-style video games.

The cost could be as much as $8000 per vehicle but Mr MacNeil believes that ultimately there is a market for almost 1000 units a year.

Chrysler is also considering entering a Neon race car in the GT Production championships. This is no half-hearted effort with an experienced race driver likely to steer the team's entry. The idea is to stimulate greater awareness of Chrysler's sporting prowess.

A run of 200 locally made bodykits designed for the Neon sold out in a rush earlier this year, according to the company, prompting the move to use a more aggressive tack.

Meanwhile, Chrysler is considering ways to import a right-hand drive Viper or similarly exciting sports vehicle to stimulate brand awareness.

It is understood a business case for a factory finished right-hand drive Viper is weak and Chrysler is believed to be considering a local conversion, though dogged by the complexity and cost of a top-rate job.

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