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Chrysler moves to Port Melbourne

Open the Port: Chrysler Australia managing director Clyde Campbell (left) outside the new Port Melbourne premises.

New premises to improve parts supply, frame new start for Chrysler in Australia

5 Mar 2012

CHRYSLER Group Australia’s impending move to large new premises at Plummer Street in Port Melbourne will improve the supply of parts, make visits for interstate visitors easier and provide room for growth.

In addition to the large warehouse that will be used to store parts and accessories – ending Australia’s reliance on a logistics centre in Singapore – there will be a showroom, auditorium, service bays, training rooms and an engineering research and development area.

Speaking at the MY2012 Jeep Wrangler launch last week, Chrysler Australia managing director Clyde Campbell said the company is looking forward to repeating last year’s success in 2012.

With sales across its three brands up 27.5 per cent to almost 12,000 units last year against a market that fell 2.6 per cent, the company enjoyed its best year since 1994.

This year is shaping up well too, with a record January followed by an even better February, in which strong Jeep Grand Cherokee and Compass volume contributed to a total of 1589 sales (up 91.4 per cent), the best month in Chrysler Australia’s history.

 center imageLeft: Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Below: 300C.

After the divorce of Chrysler and Daimler concluded in 2009, Chrysler Group Australia moved operations to Fiat-owned Iveco Trucks headquarters in Dandenong, 35 kilometres southeast of Melbourne’s CBD – but space was always at a premium and growth that took place last year only increased the pressure.

“We don’t have enough space in our office today for the amount of people we have,” Mr Campbell told GoAuto. “We have been hiring extra space, serviced offices and things like that.”

Mr Campbell confirmed that the company is still hiring and all employees will have moved to Port Melbourne by the end of June after a staged migration starting in late April.

“We are getting great people,” he said. “We have still got some open positions and part of the hiring increase will come as we grow. There are certainly plans to add more people.”

In addition to the extra space, the new headquarters will improve the working environment and facilities available to Chrysler, with on-site dining areas, free parking and a gym.

“I have got a strong belief that we need things like a showroom and a proper training facility so we have found a space that accommodates all of that,” said Mr Campbell.

“That naturally means we have got room if we ever wanted to expand, something we didn’t have 18 months ago.

“Obviously we have plans to grow the business going forward so we had to do an extrapolation to say how we future-proof our growth for the next five to seven years.”

There is good news for Iveco too – to which Mr Campbell expressed gratitude for its temporary hospitality – as it will have access to part of the Port Melbourne facility in order to give it a base closer to the city.

Mr Campbell said the Chrysler Australia’s turnaround is being appreciated by dealers, a number of which are asking to open satellite operations or new dealerships and that the approval to invest in its new premises was a vote of confidence from its parent company.

“In an environment where a lot of car companies are looking to shrink or be very conservative, it is a real vote of confidence for us and the way we are doing business that we have been given the approvals from our headquarters overseas to gear up, to invest, to grow.

“That is a real solid thing for our dealers to get behind as well, because when they see a car company coming out, not just talking about plans to grow but actually doing it and putting their own money on the line.

“We have got an overwhelming amount of our dealers, especially our metropolitan dealers, coming to us and saying they to have a satellite or open another dealership.

“That is a far cry from 18 months ago when I first started ringing people saying we need a dealership here or there and people would literally hang up on us.

“A group of businessmen, who have stuck with this company through thick and thin, are saying, ‘we are going with you, you’re investing, we’re investing, and we see the future.’“We think this bodes really well for the future of our brands in this country.”

In the absence of the 300C and Sebring, Chrysler brand sales dropped 60.4 per cent to just 580 units last year, but Jeep and Dodge were up 44.7 per cent and 41 per cent respectively, bringing the group’s sales total close to 12,000 units.

This year, the Jeep brand will gain a halo model in the shape of the snarling V8-powered Grand Cherokee SRT-8 that arrives in April and Chrysler brand sales are set to be boosted with the arrival of the second-generation 300C sedan mid-year, when all variants of which – from diesel to SRT-8 – will be launched simultaneously.

What’s coming from Chrysler:

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8: April
Chrysler 300C range: Mid-year

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