SAN FRANCISCO - The Plymouth brand's survival, long subject to rumors, appears safe for the time being, but DaimlerChrysler AG is watching it closely.
Dealers asked about Plymouth's future during the Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here.
'We said we're watching it very closely and the market will ultimately decide,' said Bud Liebler, DaimlerChrysler senior vice president of marketing. 'We're going to watch and see.'
Liebler's comments were less than a ringing endorsement for the brand. But James Holden, executive vice president of North American sales and marketing, said in January that his company needs Plymouth as an entry-level brand. And Plymouth is proceeding with a new Neon.
The 2000 Neon is due out in about six weeks. Dodge also gets the Neon. The automaker simply could have dropped the Plymouth Neon.
The Plymouth lineup has four models: Breeze, Voyager/Grand Voyager, Prowler and Neon.
There has been speculation in the industry that the Breeze will be dropped when the JA mid-sized sedans are redesigned for the 2001 model year, leaving only the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus.
DaimlerChrysler had a 1999 red Plymouth Prowler on display at the automaker's stand during the convention. The automaker began offering the Prowler in red earlier this month.
Plymouth will not get a version of the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, which goes on sale in March 2000.
Said Liebler: 'We've extended the Chrysler brand and are doing so even more with the PT Cruiser.'