EATON: PLYMOUTH MAY NOT GET JA CAR

The Plymouth version of the JA car may not make it to market after all.

'We may not do it,' Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton told Automotive News Dec. 13.

The sister cars are the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus. The Cirrus went on sale in October, and the Stratus will arrive in dealer showrooms in January.

A source familiar with Chrysler's future product plans says the Plymouth version will be called Accolade - if it goes into production at the Sterling Heights, Mich., plant as scheduled next July or August.

Dealers also expect the new car.

'I have not been told anything to the contrary' that we will not get the Plymouth JA, says Bill Golling, secretary of the Chrysler-Plymouth Dealer Council.

But Eaton says: 'Who knows? We may not need to do that car.'

Meanwhile, plans are on track for a convertible version of the JA.

Code-named JX 27, the vehicle will be built in Mexico, says a Chrysler employee.

The employee says the convertible is a stretch version of the JA sedans.

'You can sit comfortably in the back seat,' the employee says.

If Plymouth is shut out of the JA segment, it would leave the brand with only two vehicles - the Neon and the new minivan, which is due early in calendar 1995.

The Plymouth JA is supposed to replace the Acclaim, a good seller at Chrysler-Plymouth dealerships. The Acclaim goes out of production this year.

'We feel a need for that (JA) car,' says Golling, owner of Golling Chrysler-Plymouth Inc. in Waterford, Mich. 'It's not bad to have higher volume on fewer products, but you can't get down to none.'

The brand's Laser model was killed for the 1995 model year; its counterparts, the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse, were redesigned.

The imported Colt and Vista models were also deleted for the 1995 model year.

'In any franchise today, you must have a sufficient range to meet consumer needs,' Golling says.

Golling thinks Chrysler-Plymouth dealerships need a buffer between the entry-level Neon and the Chrysler Cirrus, the buffer role that Acclaim filled.

The Neon starts at $9,500; the base price of the Acclaim is $14,323; and the Cirrus base price is $17,435.

'The Acclaim is a very successful, middle-of-the-road car for us,' Golling says.

The Acclaim accounted for 59,871 units or 32 percent of Plymouth's total car sales through the end of November.

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