Besides the introduction of the Dodge Challenger, there has been very little good news coming out of Chrysler lately. Sales are down 22% for the year due to a lineup that's still heavy on trucks and SUVs, but there may be some help on the way as soon as 2009. Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli has hinted that a fuel efficient new vehicle(s) could debut next year, and platform sharing with other automakers would be behind the quick turn-around. Nardelli says the Auburn Hills-based automaker has re-prioritized its capital in an effort to quickly get to market the fuel-efficient vehicles that the market demands. Debuting even a single vehicle that's more fuel-efficient than anything else in the Chrysler lineup would likely have a big effect in light of the fact that its brands offer some of the least fuel-efficient lineups in the industry.
Nardelli didn't give any details as to which vehicle could arrive ahead of schedule, but speculation is that the Dodge Hornet is on the short list. The handsome Hornet (if it looks like the concept) will be based on the Nissan Versa small car platform, and was originally slated to arrive in Dodge guise in 2010. Chrysler is also rumored to be working on alliances with Tata, Fiat, and Chery, and each automaker has plenty of small, efficient vehicles at its disposal. None of those automakers has a presence in the U.S., though, so a quick turnaround on a platform that hasn't been properly crash tested doesn't seem likely.
[Source: Detroit News]