Prowler out of Production, PT Cruiser to Take Niche

Published May 17th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

As the Plymouth brand name goes into the history books of the automotive world, so does one of the most famous all-American cars that ever appeared in the nineties, the Plymouth Prowler, a report by The Car Connection (TCC) web magazine said Tuesday. 

The Prowler was presented by the designers from the old Chrysler Corp in the mid-nineties with its aluminum body and retro appearance, and was meant to be a mass-produced Hot Rod, one of the stylish signature cars popular in the fifties. But with the demise of the Plymouth brand, so goes the Prowler. 

According to TCC, DaimlerChrysler president James Holden says the automaker is planning to phase out the Prowler next year. "We aren't going to over-produce it, so we'll probably hold production to around 2000 units," TCC quoted him as saying.  

Holden stressed, though, that the end of Prowler doesn't mean that DC is getting out of the custom car business. The company plans to put the next-generation Dodge Viper in the Conner assembly plant, and is also considering whether to build a couple of other models at the specialty car plant, which is considered one of the top places to work in the company, Holden said.  

TCC added that according to Holden, DaimlerChrysler also is studying the feasibility of adding a rear-wheel-drive luxury car to its model line. 

The old Chrysler Corp. scrapped plans for a rear-wheel-drive luxury car in the early 1990s. Robert Lutz, the company's chief operating officer at the time, preferred to invest in sport-utility vehicles rather than luxury rear-wheel-drive, which he said was too costly and the market too small.  

This policy proved successful for Chrysler, but times have changed and rear-wheel-drive cars are coming back into fashion, particularly at the high end of the market. 

"We have a bigger parts bin thanks to our linkup with Mercedes-Benz," Holden told TCC. "We've got a lot of room above the 300M before we start bumping into Mercedes in the market. We could do it with a lot of in-your-face American style," Holden added. 

According to TCC, DaimlerChrysler is also trying to meet the high demand for the PT Cruiser, Holden said. The demand for the PT is so hot right now, DC could wind up delaying the introduction of some PT derivatives, such as a GT model and a panel truck, just to keep up with the demand for the basic vehicle.  

In addition to building about 185,000 units annually in Toluca, Mexico, DC also plans to build 50,000 PTs in Graz, Austria. The Austrian-built PTs may be sold in Europe, where multi-purpose vehicles are in high demand, Holden said. 

The addition of Graz will boost PT production to about 235,000 units a year, but the company thinks it will need even more units in the future. Toluca is expected to build about 100,000 PTs this year. 

Holden says demand is so strong that DC is asking dealers not to hold back on writing up orders for the vehicle because it does not want to disappoint potential buyers – 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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