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Exclusive: Jeep to stop stocking popular gas models in Delaware

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Jeep Wrangler Unsplash Delaware

Jeep parent company Stellantis recently notified a Delaware dealership that it will no longer ship gas-powered versions of the popular Wrangler due to the state’s adoption of California emission standards. The gas model will only be available for delivery after sale. | Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

A Delaware automotive dealer says that Jeep will no longer ship gas-powered cars to be stocked on his lot as a result of Delaware’s current consideration of adopting the California’s Zero Emission Vehicle, or ZEV, regulatory model that would prohibit sales in the state of new gasoline vehicles beginning in 2035.

Santosh Viswanathan, president and CEO of Lakeshore Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Seaford and managing partner of Willis Ford in Smyrna, said he received notification last week from the brand’s parent company, Stellantis, that he could not receive regular shipments of two popular Jeep gasoline-powered models to stock on his lot “because we are considered a ‘California state.’”

“People will still be able to direct order these gas-powered models, but that could take weeks before they are delivered,” Viswanathan noted.

The prohibited gas-powered Jeeps cited in the notification are the Wrangler four-door Sport, Sahara and Rubicon and the Wrangler two-door Sport and Rubicon. According to the letter, the Jeep Wrangler 4XE and the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE, both electric models, will be available to keep in stock in the First State.

“But these are much-more expensive vehicles,” he said.

The gas-powered, four-door 2023 Wrangler has a sticker price of about $34,135, while the electric 4XE has a starting price of about $54,765, according to Kelly Blue Book.

The change in approach from Stellantis would undoubtedly impact sales at the state’s eight Chyrsler Jeep Dodge RAM dealerships under a variety of ownership groups. With no sales tax, Delaware also sees a steady stream of buyers from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey who could be impacted by the decision to no longer stock gas-powered Wranglers on dealership lots – although those buyers would have few other choices than to get a vehicle shipped.

That’s because Delaware is not alone in this new stocking prohibition for gas vehicles, as California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, and Colorado are also included due to their adoption of the ZEV standards.

In a statement to Delaware Business Times, Stellantis said the decision on vehicle stocking was predicated on California’s denial to grandfather in the 2-year-old company to its 2020 framework that allows a more lenient ramp up toward the zero-emission goal.

“Stellantis is well on its way to an electrified future marked by a roughly $35 billion investment to support the introduction of 25 [battery-electric vehicles] by 2030, with the first vehicle hitting the road this year. Shortly after Stellantis was formed, we approached California about joining the ‘framework’ negotiated with some of our competitors that would allow Stellantis to comply with alternative California standards based on our nationwide sales. We were informed that California was not allowing any new companies into the framework. The communication to our dealers simply acknowledges the reality that we may need to adjust vehicle allocations among the California and Federal states to ensure that Stellantis complies with different standards in the California states. We will continue to support our dealer network as they work to meet the needs of our consumers during this time, and we will continue to seek a level playing field for our company and our dealers. The ultimate solution rests with a program that allows compliance based on sales in all 50 states,” the company said.

In March 2022, Gov. John Carney announced Delaware planned to join 16 other states in adopting the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations, setting off a year-long, statewide debate about whether all new cars registered in Delaware in 2035 will be only electric, or zero-emission, vehicles as ZEV regulations will require.

Public comments on the issue must be submitted to the Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), which is overseeing enactment of the proposal, by Friday, May 26.

Viswanathan, who also serves as the legislative chair of the Delaware Automotive and Truck Dealers Association, said he is not aware of any other auto manufacturers receiving similar letters to dealerships, “but that will only be a matter of time.” He also said the dealers had no specific action plan except to encourage public comments to DNREC.

In the letter to Viswanathan, Stellantis noted that stocking of the Dodge Durango R/T and SRT, a sporty, mid-sized SUV, would also be prohibited in Delaware.

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