PHOENIX, Arizona -- The Chrysler group will decide in the next three months whether to produce the two-passenger Dodge Sling Shot as a Europe-only sports car.
The Smart-based vehicle would be assembled and initially sold only in Europe.
Chrysler group CEO Dieter Zetsche said North American sales are not part of the business plan.
DaimlerChrysler's intention is to turn the Chrysler group's US brand Dodge into a global player. The Sling Shot would become the second of several Dodge-branded cars aimed at Europe in the next decade.
The Dodge Viper will be first, going on sale this year to replace the previous-generation Chrysler Viper. Zetsche said he must decide on Sling Shot soon because the 7-year-old Smart platform is nearing the end of its cycle.
The Sling Shot likely would share the Smart Roadster's rear-drive, rear-engine architecture, although the Dodge model would have its own styling.
Zetsche said if the company decides to build the vehicle, Sling Shot production could start about 18 months later.
The Sling Shot concept debuted last month at the Detroit auto show as a basic sports car. It featured a two-piece retractable canvas roof and a 100hp, three-cylinder engine.
"We are launching Dodge internationally with the Viper in 2004," Zetsche said. "Then there is kind of a dark period. In 2006 we come in with a number of new products." The Sling Shot "would kind of help us fill that void."
Additionally, he said the car would help fill capacity at the Smart plant in Hambach, France.
Zetsche said the company must decide if the Sling Shot would help Dodge's image in Europe and whether it would be priced slightly above or below the Smart.
The company also must determine how many Sling Shots could be assembled in the Smart plant.