Chrysler Group is suspending production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango at its Jefferson North Assembly plant for three weeks starting December 22 to upgrade its paint shop. The upgrade will allow the shop to create paint vehicles with more complex exterior colors.
Due to the suspension, Chrysler also suspended dealer orders of the Grand Cherokee and Durango in any color other than grayscale -- black, white, silver or gray -- until at least February. The production suspension will be the first time that the Jefferson North Assembly plant will stop operations for such an extended period since the carmaker collapsed into bankruptcy in 2009.
According to Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson, the upgrades at the paint shop will pave way for a new painting process that will enhance the way the Grand Cherokee and Durango are painted, adding that more colors could be created eventually and would slowly become available.
The Grand Cherokee has been available in black, white, silver, gray tan, brown, red, blue and maximum steel, depending on the trim level. Only around 19 percent of the almost 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees listed on jeep.com were painted a color other than grayscale.
The Durango, meanwhile, has been available in black, white, silver, gray, blue, tan, bright red, dark red, green and maximum steel. Only over 8 percent of the 719 unsold Durangos listed on dodge.com were painted a color other than grayscale.
Grand Cherokee posted a 6-percent jump in sales in the United States in the first 10 months of 2014 to 151,303. Dodge Durango also logged a 6-percent leap in US sales in the same period to 52,866 units.