Just how many components will future Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz models share? Chrysler's new 300 sedan gives one answer -- one-fifth.
Following the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler in 1998, there was a lot of talk about how the ailing US brand would benefit from M-B's engineering capabilities.
However, optimists at Chrysler's US headquarters at Auburn Hills, near Detroit, underestimated the determination of Mercedes engineers at Stuttgart, Germany, to protect their technology.
The Chrysler Crossfire, little more than a re-skinned previous-generation Mercedes SLK built by German contract coachbuilder Karmann, was introduced as an emergency stopgap to beef up Chrysler's aging lineup. But Mercedes Car Group CEO Jürgen Hubbert won a pledge from D/C that other volume models within the group would not borrow so much technology from M-B.
"There is a decision of the board that the Crossfire will remain an exception," said Hubbert.
D/C board member Rüdiger Grube emphasized the point during the Automotive News Europe Congress in Montreux, Switzerland last month.
He said there will "never" be a Chrysler or Mitsubishi car on a Mercedes or Maybach platform, nor would Mercedes cars come from a Chrysler production line or vice versa.
The 300, which was introduced in Europe last month, gets 20 percent of its parts by value from Mercedes vehicles. Many of the parts come from the previous-generation E class, including the design of the independent rear suspension, the front-seat frame, steering column and cruise control stick.
The 300 is assembled in Bramp-ton, Ontario, Canada, where Chrysler invested about E900 million to retool the plant for the 300 and two station wagon variants, the 300 Touring and Dodge Magnum.
The Magnum will be sold as a station wagon version of the 300 in Europe beginning in November. It also shares one-fifth of its components with M-B.
Additionally, 300 and Magnum models with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 use Mercedes' rear axle, differential and five-speed automatic transmission.
Mercedes, Chrysler and Dodge are three of the six passenger-car brands that are owned by DaimlerChrysler.