The 2014 Cherokee, which arrived in Manitoba Chrysler dealer showrooms in mid-November, is proving to be a smoking-hot product.
"In 30 years in the industry, I've never seen a new model sell out this quickly, said Roger Dorge, Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram's senior sales manager. "On the other hand, our customers have been waiting a considerable amount of time for this missing piece in our product line-up."
Of the dealership's first consignment of six, five were already pre-sold when they arrived.
Sales rep Rod Francisco, who sold those first five units, noted that the Cherokee is the first model to be equipped with a nine-speed transmission. He said that contributes greatly to its best-in-segment fuel efficiency, along with a computerized valve lifting system. The 2014 Cherokee is 45-per-cent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.
The new model comes with a choice of 2.4L four-cylinder Tiger Shark engine (184 hp, 171 lb.-ft. of torque) or 3.2L V6 Pentastar engine (271 hp, 239 lb.-ft. of torque).
The Cherokee's new standout front-end design includes a headlight array featuring "eyebrow" lights just above LED headlamps. On the inside, there's natural wood paneling, soft vinyl and 10 standard airbags.
"The finest craftsmanship characterizes tie interior," Francisco said. "And the standard Bluetooth connectivity is a huge safety feature. You can sync your phone into the system so that the system can read your text messages to you while you drive."
The base price for the new model is $24,995 (including freight and pdi), increasing to a top price in the mid-$40,000 range depending on which version of the Cherokee and packages you choose.
"With the 2014 Cherokee, we have a winner on our hands," said Eastern Chrysler's president Jim Fyles. "This vehicle pretty much sells itself.
"The Jeep line has a pedigree that goes back to 1941. These vehicles were designed to go anywhere. Jeep is the world's top-selling brand."
Since Auto Canada acquired Eastern Chrysler earlier this fall, the north Main dealership has seen record sales volumes in October and November, Fyles added.
"The Rewucki Family operated a good business here for close to 60 years. "We are building on their record of achievement."
Part of the reason for the sales boost is the addition of several new and enthusiastic sales reps, he added.
Rod Bell, for example, joined the sales staff at the end of September. Bell makes up to 100 phone calls a day to prospective customers and sold 35 vehicles in his first two months on the job.
Antoney Chelliah and Tiffany Tran have also been on the sales floor for just over two months. "My sales have been great here," said Tran, who had been managing a Rogers outlet in St. James.
Chelliah worked in the auto industry in Sri Lanka before coming to Winnipeg 18 months ago. "Auto sales is my dream job," he said. "It's unbelievable how busy it is here."
Jason McLean, a former youth corrections worker who has been in auto sales for a little over six months, joined the Eastern Chrysler staff on November 1. "The energy here is incredible," he said. "The atmosphere is very positive."
Rebranding at AutoTown Kia
AutoTown Kia at the Waverley Auto Mall has a new name: Winnipeg Kia.
"We decided to change our name to reflect our commitment to the city where we make our homes and do business," said Warren O'Connell, recently promoted to general manager from general sales manager.
O'Connell, who joined the AutoTown sales team last January, has worked in the industry here for 21 years, the past nine in management.
Stepping into O'Connell's role as general sales manager is Ian McIntyre who had been new car sales manager. McIntyre has been part of the AutoTown management team since the dealership opened at the Waverley mall six years ago.
Relatively new to the management team are manager of fixed operations Wally Brooks and sales manager Ottavio Giannico. Brooks came to AutoTown Kia two months ago with 25 years of management and dealership experience, while Giannico has been in auto sales for four years, joining the Kia store six months ago.
"We're really excited about the coming year," O'Connell said. "We have increased our inventory by 40 per cent, added more service and parts people, created additional customer parking and improved signage, all of which is aimed to provide our customers with a higher level of service."
Birchwood Hyundai rep returns
After a hiatus of a few months, Gil Magsajo has rejoined Bitchwood Hyundai's sales team. Magsajo has 11 years' experience in auto sales and was one of Birchwood Hyundai's original reps when the north McPhillips dealership opened in September, 2011.
"It feels like I've come home again," Magsajo says. "I'm comfortable here and the Birchwood Group is a good company to work for."