Chrysler to Cut Either Plymouth or Eagle Lines With PM-New Chryslers
DETROIT (AP) _ Chrysler Corp. plans to phase out either its Plymouth or Eagle line to help consumers make easier choices, the executive designated to succeed Lee Iacocca as head of the automaker said in a newspaper interview.
″We would be better off with fewer brands,″ vice chairman Robert Eaton told The Detroit News in a report published Sunday. ″To maintain brand awareness in as complex a market as we have today, we can do better with fewer brands.″
He said a decision on which brand will be eliminated won’t be made for about a year.
″This is not something you do overnight,″ Eaton said. ″We haven’t brought out the last new Plymouth car or, for sure, the last new Eagle car.″
Asked about the report today, Chrysler spokesman Tom Houston said, ″There has been a study ongoing for some months about a number of possibilities.″
But he said no announcement was imminent and it was impossible to say when such a decision could be made.
Plymouth was launched in 1928 and marketed by Chrysler as a low-priced car. Eagle was introduced in 1987 after being developed by American Motors Corp., which Chrysler acquired that year.
The decision resulted from an internal study that found Plymouth and Eagle had the lowest sales of Chrysler’s five lines, Eaton said. The other lines are Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.
Eaton, 52, headed the European division of General Motors Corp. before joining Chrysler in March. He has been tapped to replace Iaccoca as chairman when he retires Dec. 31.
Chrysler reported a first-quarter loss of $256 million, largely attributed to the cost of developing its new LH line of mid-size sedans.
Eaton said operating losses probably would continue in the second quarter.
″There’s no question the start-up costs will continue to be extremely heavy in the second quarter,″ Eaton said. ″But we’re not going to have anything like the last quarter. It will be significantly better.″