Christine Cortez is out to recover the $5 billion in annual parts and automotive service that owners of Chrysler Group vehicles find elsewhere.
That business must return if Chrysler hopes to build the relationship it needs for brand loyalty, according to Ms. Cortez, senior vice president for global service and parts for DaimlerChrysler A.G.'s Chrysler Group.
``Our math says there is $5 billion worth of annual parts and repair we don't get,'' Ms. Cortez told the recent Automotive News World Congress, held in Detroit. ``But we have to earn it.''
Ms. Cortez is working to revitalize Chrysler's Mopar parts brand. It flourished in the 1960s because of the brand's close association with the hemi engine, Dodge Chargers and other former Chrysler Corp. muscle cars. But it failed to keep up with the growth of chain service centers and a new generation of car owners who have turned to imports to build the quick, high-revving cars glamorized in recent films.
Chrysler values its Mopar brand on the same level as the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands. Chrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. do not break out annual service and parts revenue.
Ms. Cortez said Chrysler dealers need to recover the parts and service business that slipped away to specialty businesses such as Pep Boys-Manny, Moe and Jack.
``High service capacity utilization is key to financial success for a dealer,'' she said. ``If we or our dealers see our customers at the time they purchase a vehicle and then not again until they maybe return to buy again in three or four years, that's not much time to build a relationship or some loyalty.''
The challenge, Ms. Cortez said, is to convince the customer that ``we are convenient and that we are competitively priced.''
She said she spent enough time on the West Coast last year to see the potential of performance parts for today's small-displacement engines.
``You know, it's still about go fast, look good and girls,'' Ms. Cortez said.
Turbo upgrades, engine dress-up treatments and other performance items increasingly will find their way into ``Mopar Speedshops'' within existing Chrysler car dealerships, she said.
Ms. Cortez noted that she hopes to have 100 Speedshops in operation by year end.
Still more performance business will come as Chrysler builds more hot vehicles, she said. ``With the Dodge SRT4 and the Hemi...it's time.''