The Chrysler Group plans to shift from a dozen engineering designs to three basic ones, a Chrysler engineer told the Detroit Free Press.
The consolidation will allow Chrysler to build more hot-selling PT Cruisers and less low-profit Neons, said Eric Ridenour, Chrysler’s executive vice president of engineering.
The three designs are based on the vehicles’ structure and drivetrain. Front-wheel-drive vehicles like the Town and Country minivan and the PT Cruiser fall in one category. Rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles like the 300 sedan and the Jeep Grand Cherokee will belong to a second architecture, while trucks like the Dodge Ram pickup and Dakota will comprise the third architecture.
The first models to fall into the new categories are cars and sport-utility vehicles designed with Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the Free Press said. The models, as yet unnamed, are to begin production next year and replace Dodge Neon and Chrysler Stratus models as well as Mitsubishi's Galant sedan and Endeavor sport-utility models.
Chrysler plans 25 new models in the next three years, several of them developed with Mitsubishi. More than half of Mitsubishi's vehicles will share designs with Chrysler by 2007, Mitsubishi executives have said. After rejecting plans to boost its investment in Mitsubishi, Chrysler has decided to keep its 37 percent in the ailing automaker.