DETROIT - There are several opportunities for platform and architectural sharing between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. But timing is everything.
The earliest opportunity would be 2004 for the 2005 model year, when Chrysler's re-engineered Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus sedans will be due for a redesign. They bowed last October.
Those cars would dovetail with the debuts of three mid-sized Mitsubishi models to be produced off a new platform at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America plant in Normal, Ill. They are:
1. The replacement for the Montero Sport sport-utility, which will shift from a truck platform to a car platform, in spring 2003
2. The redesigned Galant sedan, a year earlier
3. And the replacement for the Eclipse coupe, in 2005.
The Galant is similar in size and price to the Sebring and Stratus sedans.
The launch of the new Mitsubishi models nearly coincides with the end of the cycle for the Stratus sedan and the Sebring sedan and convertible. Thus, the timing would be right for Chrysler to launch Sebring and Stratus replacements off the new Mitsubishi platform.
The coupes are due for a redesign around the 2005 or 2006 model year and would be expected to continue using Mitsubishi architecture if kept in the product line. Combined sales for the two coupes were a mere 24,173 units for calendar 2000.
The Dodge Neon is another strong candidate for platform sharing. It bowed for the 1995 model year and was re-engineered and restyled for the 2000 model year. A redesign normally would take place for the 2005 or 2006 model year.
But Mitsubishi will introduce the 2002 Lancer at the New York auto show in April, a redesigned sedan that replaces the Mirage sedan, which is a subcompact. That platform also carries the Japan-market Dion minivan, so the partners would gain significant efficiencies by using the Lancer platform or architecture for the next generation Neon.