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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  March 20, 2002
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Chrysler Group to Introduce 11 New Vehicles through 2004

  • Dieter Zetsche at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
  • 'Our Turnaround Plan is building on the strengths of an American icon'
  • Chrysler quality competing among the best, says Zetsche
    .

Dieter Zetsche

Photo: DC

Auburn Hills/Washington D.C. -The Chrysler Group will introduce 11 new vehicles in the 2002-2004 time period, as part of a five-year, $30 billion investment plan in new products and programs, Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said at the National Press Club here. And building those new products with unparalleled levels of quality is the company's leading priority.

Calling quality the automotive equivalent to 'blocking and tackling' in football, Zetsche proclaimed that Chrysler quality was already rapidly improving, but added, "We will never rest until we match the world's benchmark."

Zetsche cited the most recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, which showed Chrysler Group passenger cars ahead of all domestic makes and better than many import manufacturers. In addition, Consumer Reports rated Chrysler Group vehicles best for reliability among U.S. manufacturers in its April edition, with fewer problems recorded on average than European-built vehicles. Five of the company's models earned a Consumer Reports "Recommended" rating, up from three the year before.

Regarding the financial strength of the Chrysler Group, Zetsche said the company was "building on the strengths of an American icon." In 2001, Chrysler Group over-achieved on all its cost targets to allow the company to save $3.3 billion, and "the efficiencies are starting to pay off." He said the $30 billion program spending over the next five years was far less than the previous plan of $42 billion, but actually added five more products to the pipeline.

While saying that Chrysler Group was "American to the core," Zetsche added that the company has been able to take advantage of new resources gained from its DaimlerChrysler partners to make itself stronger. "We are now part of a larger organization, and that has many more benefits. It's a formula that none of the other domestic automotive manufacturers are able to tap into ... including access to the cutting-edge European technology of Mercedes-Benz."

Zetsche cited the Chrysler Crossfire sports coupe -- due next year -- as a symbol of the opportunity for Chrysler. "It will blend American design with German technology and engineering," he said. "We like to say it is Route 66 meeting the Autobahn -- moreover, delivered to the market in two years from concept to production."

The Chrysler Group chief executive also told the National Press Club audience that he expected fuel economy standards will be increased by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following debate in the Senate this week. But he added that initial proposals to drastically increase corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards were "neither consistent with what consumers want, nor consistent with a healthy auto industry and its effects on the economy."

(March 15, 2002)

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