Chrysler and Mitsubishi models may be built on common platforms in the future.
DaimlerChrysler is working on a platform strategy for the U.S. subsidiary and its troubled Japanese alliance partner, according to sources.
'There are a lot more synergies to gain between Chrysler and Mitsubishi than with either of them and Mercedes-Benz,' said a DaimlerChrysler executive. 'We are just beginning.'
Since the 1998 takeover, synergies between the former Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corp. have been limited to areas such as procurement, finance, administration and production processes.
Sharing platforms between rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz models and front-wheel-drive Chrysler models creates technical problems. DaimlerChrysler also has put a higher priority on preserving Mercedes brand integrity than on cost savings.
But there are no objections to the Japanese and the American brands sharing platforms. And there are also no technical obstacles, since both use mainly front-wheel drive in their passenger-car lines.
'We are currently looking at each project at Chrysler to find better processes, cut costs and improve economies of scale without sacrificing quality,' said the DaimlerChrysler executive. 'We are also identifying possible synergies with Mitsubishi. Sharing platforms is only one possibility for the future.'
The executive declined to be specific. He said it would take at least three years before the first products on a common Chrysler/Mitsubishi platform reach the market.
The new Smart four-seat/four-door model and future Mitsubishi minicar will share a Mitsubishi platform. The vehicles are being jointly developed, and will be produced at the NedCar plant in Born, The Netherlands.
Though neither Mercedes-Benz nor Jeep will be included in any common platform strategy, there are no limits on technology sharing.