It appears that Chrysler will discontinue the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen full-sized hybrids just two months after both vehicles began full-scale production. A company press release stated, “In response to the continuing global economic slowdown and auto industry contraction, as well as the market’s continuing movement toward smaller vehicles, Chrysler is announcing…the pull-ahead of the closure of the Newark, Del. Assembly Plant.”
On Dec. 31, 2008, the plants where both the hybrid and non-hybrid versions of these two models are built will be shut down. Approximately 1,000 jobs will be lost. This news hits just one year after the Durango and Aspen Hybrids made their world debut at the 2007 Los Angeles International Auto Show.
According to reports, there have been about 3,000 pre-orders for the two hybrids. It is not clear at this time how many of those orders have been filled, and what will happen with those not yet delivered.
The hybrid system used in the Aspen and Durango featured the two-mode technology co-developed with General Motors and BMW. Both vehicles join an electric motor with Chrysler’s famed Hemi-V8 engine. The two-mode transmission used in the system is separately built in a plant in White Marsh, Md., which last year added a significant boost in square footage, hardware, and personnel, necessary to produce the new technology. Chrysler did not comment on the status of that facility.
The death of the Durango and Aspen hybrids has not changed Chrysler’s plan for more hybrid gas-electric vehicles. “More hybrids are coming in the future,” said Chrysler spokeswoman, Mary Beth Halprin, in an interview with the Detroit News. Chrysler has not signaled a disruption in plans to launch a hybrid Dodge Ram full-size pickup in 2010. That vehicle will share the same two-mode technology as the Aspen and Durango hybrids.