Auf Wiedersehen, Big 3. The Chrysler group no longer plans to chase Ford Motor Co. and General Motors with products for every market segment. Instead, the automaker will focus on its strongest products - trucks - while its partners develop cars. Here is a summary of Chrysler's strategy:
Small cars. Chrysler's smallest car, the Neon, will share a common platform with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Most likely, it will use Mitsubishi's replacement for the Lancer. Chrysler will design the body for its product, while borrowing components from the Japanese automaker.
Mid-sized cars. The Sebring and Stratus will share platforms with the Mitsubishi Galant.
Large cars. Chrysler will aim its large cars at upscale buyers, rather than compete with mass-market leaders such as the Ford Taurus or Honda Accord. A new large car, code-named the LX, will be developed using major components from the next-generation Mercedes E class. The LX range will be rear-wheel drive.
Jeep will expand its range with new models but is mum about its plans. But the compact Liberty sport-utility - aimed at younger, richer consumers - hints at Jeep's new philosophy. Meanwhile, the next-generation Grand Cherokee will be developed jointly with Mercedes' M class.
Minivans. Chrysler is developing an upscale crossover vehicle - code-named the CS - based on its minivan. It is due to be unveiled late next year. Its styling and interior layout will help Chrysler price it higher than rival vehicles.
To ensure that new models meet cost goals, Chrysler has launched a product development system. CEO Dieter Zetsche has borrowed heavily from Mercedes-Benz to modify Chrysler's famed platform teams. Zetsche has created 18 'centers of competence' to trade information among the platform teams. The object is to discover problems early, when they can be easily fixed.
'It takes you so much less time, cost and effort to fix the problem at the beginning,' Zetsche says.