Chrysler launches industry first Online Customer Advisory Board

Chrysler may not have the most inspiring lineup in the industry, but the Michigan-based automaker is hard at work trying to right the ship. At last week's New York Auto Show Chrysler president Jim Press confirmed that Chrysler would be eliminating most of its redundant models and now the company has launched the industry's first Online Customer Advisory Board.

The new board -- which will consist of 2,000 volunteers -- is designed to open a line of communication between consumers and Chrysler. Unlike traditional focus groups that are usually a one time deal, the Online Customer Advisory Board will have members serve for several months at a time.

Chrysler will use the forum to listen to consumers' ideas and feedback, but will also introduce new ideas to the group and gauge their reactions. But Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN Inc., warns that Chrysler can't use the board as a crutch. "You still need someone with an intuitive feel to make the decisions, not only for what customers want but for what customers don't even know yet that they want," Merkle told KickingTires.com. "You need someone like a Bob Lutz who says, "ňúThis is it.'"

As of now, the board is planned to operate online only, but group meetings and vehicle test drive have not been ruled out.

Chrysler is now accepting applications to participate in the program at www.ChryslerListens.com.