Chrysler Group is planning to trim the number of factory options available on vehicles over the next two model years, dealers told Automotive News. The plan came after a pilot program showed that limits on options didn’t affect sales. Dealers on the Chrysler National Dealer Council were told that the plan would result to fewer available options for consumers but greater manufacturing and ordering efficiencies and better quality.
Chrysler conducted a regional pilot program this year in which three vehicles -- the 2013 Dodge Dart and Journey and the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country minivan -- were configured by dealers during ordering. Option packages remained unchanged while the number of stand-alone options was trimmed.
The simplified ordering did not cut vehicle sales in regions with the limits. Carmakers are trying to trim the number of configurations in vehicle designs to cut cost and improve quality by reducing assembly complexity.
This, however, runs counter to customer cravings to factory vehicles with colors or optional equipment. For instance the Dodge Dart had over 10,000 potential configurations -- 14 interior colors, 12 exterior colors, six wheel styles, five trim levels, three engines and three gearboxes.
Chrysler also offers thousands of possible configurations for each of the 18 nameplates in its present lineup. According to dealers, fewer options allow salespeople to understand and communicate available options and packages much easier. Dealers remarked that Chrysler's plan would result in fewer dealer trades and reduce inventories. [source: automotive news - sub. required]