Problems with Chrysler Corp.'s new electronic Ultradrive transmission could cost the automaker a chunk of its lucrative share of the minivan market, according to an independent consumer survey.
Forty-nine percent of the Chrysler minivan owners questioned by CNW Marketing-Research, which is based in Bandon, Ore., said they'd choose the competition if they were shopping for another minivan. The results were released Tuesday."We're not surprised that their respondents have other products on their shopping lists," said Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines. "Our own research indicates that minivan intenders have three or four vehicles on their shopping lists."
Chrysler officials told the Detroit Free Press that company surveys show 82 percent of Chrysler minivan owners questioned would stick with Chrysler for their next minivan.
The CNW survey, conducted during the week of Feb. 4, questioned 11,217 consumers owning or leasing 1990 and 1991 Chrysler minivans.
The survey was prompted by recent criticism of the Ultradrive. The February issue of Consumer Reports magazine warned buyers to avoid Chrysler products powered by the Ultradrive.
Consumer Reports said the four-speed automatic transmission can lock in second gear and pose safety problems.
In December, The Center for Auto Safety asked Chrysler to recall 500,000 vehicles with the four-speed automatic Ultradrive transmission. The Washington-based consumer group said the high-tech transmission was unreliable and unsafe.
The Ultradrive is standard on the Dodge Grand Caravan, Plymouth Grand Voyager and Chrysler Town and Country minivans as well as the Chrysler Imperial Fifth Avenue, New Yorker and LeBaron sedan. It's manufactured at Chrysler's Kokomo, Ind., plant.
The group said complaints about the Ultradrive were responsible for 25 percent of all complaints against automakers.
Chrysler denounced the recall. Company officials admit the Ultradrive had problems, but they said they were corrected on all 1991 models.