August 8, 2002

Future Chrysler cars to share parts with Mercedes-Benz

Traverse City, Michigan – Dieter Zetsche, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group, declared on Wednesday that a cornerstone of the company’s product offensive in the next three years will be aimed directly at the passenger car market in North America.

Speaking at the 2002 Management Briefing Seminars at the Grand Traverse Resort, Zetsche said that “two-thirds of the 21 new and refreshed vehicles that we will introduce (in model years 2003-5) will be car-based.” In recent years, Chrysler Group has been the most dependent among the Detroit automakers on the truck market, with nearly 70 percent of its total sales based on sport-utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks.

That will change in the future, said Zetsche. Zetsche recently set a goal to add one million units a year to Chrysler Group’s annual worldwide volume by the beginning of the next decade.

Calling Chrysler “a great American auto company with a storied past,” he said that the company would “lead productive change in our industry” by parlaying its strengths in design, segment-definition and product innovation to retake some of the ground lost by American makers in the last 15 years.

Zetsche said that Chrysler Group will share technology and parts with Mercedes-Benz.

“Certainly one of the most powerful of our new tools is our ability to share technology with our global DaimlerChrysler partners,” said Zetsche. “The technology is flowing both ways.”

Several engines, transmissions, and even an ABS brake system derived from Mercedes products will find their way into Chrysler vehicles, while Chrysler technological contributions in areas such as cost-efficient emissions controls, occupant sensing technology and computer-aided engineering will be adapted company-wide.

He pointed to the 2003 Chrysler Crossfire, which will enter the market next year, as a vehicle that “embodies the new product formula.”

“We call it the ‘sports coupe of the future,'” he said, “because its combination of creative American design and solid German technology symbolizes the potential of DaimlerChrysler in an exciting new production vehicle.

“The Crossfire was designed in Auburn Hills — and it will be built in Germany. That’s why we’re saying it was conceived ‘where Route 66 meets the Autobahn’ — the symbolic junction of American and German automotive engineering.

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