Jeep dealers will face a shortage of Wrangler hardtops in the next months

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

A "supplier constraint" is what Jeep dealers were told in a memo is the reason for the expected shortage of Wrangler hardtops in the next several months. In the meantime, dealers are advised to order softtop Wranglers instead. According to a few dealers who were interviewed, they've had a difficult time getting not just hardtops but all types of Wranglers.

Not having hardtop Wranglers is expected to damage sales since a majority of customers in wintry New England prefer the hardtop. Opting for the hardtop costs $735 more but more customers prefer it. In fact, the Wranglers sold in the Northeast are 80-85% hardtops.

The Automotive News data center divulged that as of Feb. 1, Jeep had 16,653 Wranglers in its U.S. inventories.

This stands for a 69-day supply, which may seem sufficient, except that these figures don't indicate the number of hardtops. Meridian Automotive Systems Inc., which filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in early August last year, built the hardtops for the Jeep Wranglers.

Continental Structural Plastics Inc., of suburban Detroit, took over the task when Meridian stopped operating. According to a supplier executive familiar with Chrysler's Jeep roof problems, there's a certain degree of complexity to making the tops.

The supplier must work with sheet-molded composite plastic that requires large and expensive molding presses, paint application booths and curing ovens. The source added that as a result, it would be quite a challenge to move to a different supplier.[via autonews - sub. required]

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