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Chrysler Eyes Fuel efficiency

January 6, 1998

DETROIT (AP) _ Chrysler Corp., which led the auto industry’s development of sport utility vehicles, said today it would reduce emissions in the popular vehicles so they are as clean as cars.

The move follows Ford Motor Co.’s decision to dramatically cut emissions in its sport utility vehicles.

Chrysler will reduce the polluting emissions in its Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees and Grand Cherokees beginning with the 1999 model year, spokesman Tony Cervone said. Cervone said the company’s Dodge Durango could be converted to low emissions at a later date.

Chrysler did not say exactly how it would achieve its plans to reduce emissions in its SUVs.

On Monday, Ford said it would install a larger, more expensive catalytic converter in all of its 1999 sport utility vehicles. It said the new vehicles would emit only half the smog-forming hydrocarbon emissions produced by current SUV models, making them cleaner than most cars on the road today. Ford said the change won’t make the vehicles more expensive.

Also today, Chrysler planned to reveal its work on a new car that will get as much as 70 miles per gallon, cost the same as a conventional car and be ready for production as early as 2003.

The No. 3 U.S. automaker calls the car a mild hybrid, or ``mybrid,″ which uses a small battery to power the car’s accessories and boost the engine during hard acceleration, but otherwise runs on a diesel engine.

The car _ the Dodge Intrepid ESX2 _ would gain fuel efficiency through the use of a thermoplastic body that Chrysler is also considering for other concept vehicles, including the Pronto Spyder it unveiled Sunday. But Chrysler said it has not yet found a way to make the car affordable enough to be viable.

Chrysler became the last of the Big Three automakers to `go green’ at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.

General Motors Corp. said Sunday and Ford announced Monday that they would be ready to produce hybrid-electric vehicles by 2001 and fuel cell cars by 2004.

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