Let's make sure we have this right: Marketing execs at the Chrysler group may create a brand that would offer low-priced, entry level vehicles to young buyers.
It's an interesting concept, like Toyota's Scion brand, which was created for a similar purpose.
Why not call the new brand ... Plymouth?
I know, I know. The Plymouth brand wouldn't work. It's a relic of grandpa's era to the buyers Chrysler wants to attract; buyers who probably aren't interested in anything the group sells, except maybe the Jeep Liberty.
No, the Plymouth brand, which was buried in 2002, has been dead too long to be resuscitated, but not long enough to be resurrected as a classic.
Besides, Chrysler disrespected and abused the Plymouth brand for too many model years with brand-engineered hand-me-downs. The Prowler was the notable exception but most young buyers probably wouldn't remember that part.
So the brand name must be different.
But what the Chrysler group wants to do with a new brand is pretty much what Plymouth tried to do with a string of cars beginning with the Valiant in the 1960s.
Remember the Valiant derivatives Duster and Scamp? What about the Plymouth Cricket built by Chrysler UK, formerly known as the Rootes Group? The Cricket was sold as the Hillman Avenger in England. And don't forget the Plymouth Champ, which was built by Mitsubishi. They were all supposed to appeal to young, entry-level buyers. For that matter, so was the Barracuda, which also started out as a Valiant derivative then evolved into something much more.
The Detroit News reports that Chrysler is likely to have an overseas partner to help develop new models and to get the cost out, as it did decades ago with Rootes and then Mitsubishi. That partner might have been Mitsubishi again, until the DaimlerChrysler management board strained the working relationship earlier in the year by withholding further investment in the Japanese automaker. Nor is Chrysler's partner likely to be Hyundai, which wants to create its own new brand in the luxury segment.
No matter which automaker is the eventual partner, it's liable to take up to three years to get the new models to market. That ought to be plenty of time to come up with a great new name or to pull one out of the archives.
And when it's time to pick the brand name, the marketing folks in Auburn Hills might want to consult with their colleagues in Stuttgart who came up with the Smart brand when DaimlerChrysler launched its line of fuel-efficient city cars.
It's hard to imagine even a young buyer being able to resist something that clear.