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 DETROIT, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Everything about Chrysler Corporation's (NYSE: C) new personality-filled Neon small car challenges conventional wisdom -- from the way it was conceived, through its vehicle development, to what it delivers. This "dare to be different" attitude is expected to result in Neon setting new standards for small cars in fun-to-drive performance, safety, design, environmental sensitivity and overall value.
 Chrysler has developed a reputation recently for challenging conventional wisdom -- starting with its launch of the 10-year, sales-leading minivan; continuing with the most recent addition to just about everyone's "Hall of Fame" sports car, the Dodge Viper RT/10; the new sport utility benchmark, Jeep Grand Cherokee; the award-winning cab-forward Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision and Chrysler Concorde sedans; the new generation luxury cars, Chrysler New Yorker and LHS; and the most dramatic and complete lineup of full-size pickups to hit the marketplace in decades, the new Dodge Ram.
 "Neon is another example of the risk-taking, 'who said we can't do this' Chrysler platform team attitude," said Robert J. Eaton, chairman and chief executive officer.
 "Only with our new corporate culture of continuous improvement and platform teams that empower and challenge our people could we produce an affordable, yet truly desirable, unique American small car, without a foreign partner, and at an efficient investment," Eaton said.
 Historically, many in the domestic automobile industry thought it was impossible to develop and build a profitable small car without a foreign partner. And, in fact, while Neon was being conceived, Chrysler was investigating several potential foreign partners for its small car project. However, during the investigation, it became clear that such a partnership could ultimately add development time and cost, two areas Chrysler was targeting for reduction.
 Therefore, the team began asking questions and challenging conventional wisdom:
 -- Why can't we develop the discipline to produce an affordable American small car with an efficient investment, and without a partner?
 -- Why can't we create a small car people want to buy for reasons other than its low price?
 -- Why can't we produce a small car that exhibits the same dedication to performance, safety, design and environmental sensitivity that larger, more expensive cars do?
 The team answered with a resounding, "We can!"
 A small car plan which attacked every design, engineering, and manufacturing cost was presented to then Chairman Lee Iacocca and President Robert Lutz. Robert Marcell, general manager - small car platform engineering also shared the emotional story of his hometown, Iron River, Mich., which is now a depressed mining community that "couldn't compete." Marcell argued Detroit was headed for the same fate if it continued to walk away from the products that were tough to do. Marcell declared that "if we dare to be different," the rallying cry now posted throughout the small car platform offices, "Neon could be the turning point for the entire domestic auto industry."
 That meeting was a pivotal point in Neon's genesis. The team was given that nod to proceed with the project -- without a partner.
 By using a clean-sheet approach, and this "dare to be different" attitude, the team began an extraordinary development effort. Attacking every cost connected with the development and production of a vehicle, the team established a new discipline that it would carry throughout the program. It challenged everything from shipping costs, to supplier locations, to manufacturing processes -- even the number and types of door panel fasteners were scrutinized.
 In order to achieve stringent weight and cost targets, suppliers were brought into the project earlier than any other program in the company's history. Skeptical suppliers were given sensitive financial information and encouraged into a partnership never before experienced. It didn't take long before suppliers caught the contagious "dare to be different" attitude and were sharing office space with team members.
 While the Small Car Platform Team was pursuing cost containment with new supplier partnerships, it realized that in order to create a car people wanted to buy for reasons other than low price, it could not sacrifice features or performance for low cost.
 Ultimately, the key was not merely cutting costs, but being more efficient and making the right tradeoffs. The team recognized very early that "you can't be everything to everybody." For Neon to be a market and financial success, the team had to understand the customer and focus on the customer's requirements.
 Small Car Team members pooled their own money and invited small car customers to pizza parties to talk about what they liked and disliked about small cars.
 The also took several early seating bucks to shopping malls and bought hot dogs for people who agreed to critique them. While formal market research came later, the team's efforts were typical of the new ways they were challenging tradition.
 Continuing its attempts to balance customer requirements with cost containment, the team soon learned that safety was critical and so standard dual air bags, a low cowl for superb "command of road" vision, available anti-lock brakes and integrated child safety seats were naturals. A majority of people didn't care about the differences between three-speed and four-speed automatic transaxles as long as the driving experience was enjoyable. So the team adapted an existing Chrysler three-speed transaxle, providing the increased value of an easy "step-up" to an automatic.
 Another time and money saver was getting the employees of the Belvidere Assembly Plant, where the Neon will be produced, involved very early in the development process. In addition to identifying more efficient build-processes, they also identified ways to simplify Neon's components.
 By questioning and working with engineers and suppliers, Neon's door panel will now have one fastener in all locations, versus the eight different fasteners in the Shadow/Sundance models Neon will replace. In addition to reducing parts and tooling complexity, this change will also eliminate the risk of using the wrong fasteners and torque settings, major contributors to buzzes, squeaks and rattles.
 Chrysler's Small Car Platform Team's dedication to producing a small car that exhibits the same dedication to performance, safety, design and environmental sensitivity that larger, more expensive cars do, is revealed in Neon's personality and balance.
 From its all-new 2.0-liter, 16-valve engine and five-speed transmission; to its standard dual air bags and available anti-lock brakes and integrated child safety seat; to it trend-setting, cab- forward architecture; to being the most environmentally sensitive vehicle Chrysler has ever produced, Chrysler expects customers will be delighted by the balance of features found in Neon that are normally associated with large cars.
 Neon offers a solid opportunity to capture an emerging new generation of buyers. Significantly, the most outstanding characteristics of Neon are all in line with this group's likes and dislikes -- enjoyment of performance, excellent design, affordability, simplicity and environmental responsibility.
 Neon production will begin in November 1993 at the Belvidere Assembly Plant, Belvidere, Ill.

 The first thing one will notice is Neon's friendly, smiling face. Capitalizing on Chrysler Corporation's award-winning Neon concept car of 1991, and unlike any design in the current small car market, Neon's winning personality is more than just skin-deep. It's an affordable, fun-to-drive, driver's car for a new generation of car buyers.
 "When we looked at the 20-plus competitors in the small car market several years ago, we realized that in order to stand out from the crowd, Neon would have to be dramatically different in design, performance, safety and value," said Robert A. Lutz, Chrysler Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer.
 "Our award-winning Neon concept car gave us the trend-setting design direction, including the new round headlamps, and a new and emerging market of buyers provided our course for fun-to-drive and safety," Lutz said. "With Neon, we think we've created a small car people will want to buy for reasons other than low price. In fact, we think Neon will be one of the first small cars people will want to buy instead of have to buy."
 Introducing Chrysler's successful cab-forward architecture to the small car market, and placing Neon's wheels at the far corners and pushing the windshield forward, provide a dramatic, fresh appearance and increased interior room and visibility. Neon's larger doors also provide easier entry and exit.
 Four-door Neons will be introduced first in January 1994, followed by two-door coupe models in September 1994.
 Neon's interior is airy and roomy with lots of storage space and cubby holes for coins, cups and anything else today's busy drivers might require.
 Standard driver and passenger air bags, as well as adjustable seatbelt turning loops, traveling inboard seatbelt buckles, rear door child-proof locks, and available integrated child safety seats and anti- lock brakes reinforce Chrysler's safety leadership while providing passive and active safety.
 While Neon's exterior and interior design will surprise and delight, its fun-to-drive performance will captivate the hearts of even the most skeptical drivers.
 Market research told Chrysler's Small Car Platform Team that if customers had the money, they would buy a fun-to-drive sports car instead of an economical small car.
 Using a unique in-depth customer study, plus a new tool it had been studying, Quality Function Deployment (QFD), the team was able to understand, define and translate customer requirements into technical and measurable engineering terms.
 One element of fun-to-drive had to do with steering response and precision. "When you turn the wheel, the car should feel like it's turning now." The team realized they could measure responsiveness and precision by measuring how much the car rolls, the linearity of the steering and on-center feel.
 The team benchmarked dozens of cars against customers' impressions and identified which qualified as fun-to-drive. Using those cars' measurements, the team created benchmark targets for Neon.
 In addition to steering responsiveness and precision, Neon's fun-to- drive performance is enhanced by an all-new 2.0-liter, 16-valve, single overhead cam (SOHC) engine that produces 132 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 129 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm. An all-new standard five- speed manual transaxle and optional three-speed automatic add to Neon's fun-to-drive personality.
 A 2.0-liter, 16-valve, double overhead cam (DOHC) engine will be available in November 1994.
 The trend-setting nature of Neon will also apply to how it will be marketed. Historically, manufacturers spent large sums of money on designs, stampings, and componentry to differentiate models that were the same under the skin. In some segments, this still makes good marketing sense, but in the small car market, Chrysler's Small Car Platform Team found it had very little value to buyers who are price/value sensitive. Therefore, Neon will be marketed under one name, Neon, though badged Dodge or Plymouth in the United States.
 Environmentally, Neon represents Chrysler's most comprehensive, environmentally sound vehicle, including elimination of chlorofluorocarbon-producing refrigerants (CFCs); use of water-based paints; coded plastic parts for improved recycling; minimized use of painted plastic parts for increased recyclability; and increased recycling of plant packaging, sheet metal scraps and plastic fascia scraps.
 Chrysler's Small Car Platform Team's 31-month, $1.3 billion Neon investment includes two bodystyles, a four-door model, followed by a two-door model; a new 2.0-liter, 16-valve, single overhead cam (SOHC) engine and a dual overhead cam (DOHC) derivative; a new five-speed manual transaxle; two satellite stamping plants (Belvidere, Ill., and Toluca, Mexico); a satellite fascia plant (Belvidere); and all renovations made at the Belvidere and Toluca assembly facilities.
 Ultimately, Neon's affordable, fun-to-drive personality, which exhibits thoughtful attention to safety and value, will appeal to a rapidly emerging new generation of buyers. Fundamentally, they all want the same essential characteristics in a small car -- durability, reliability, value, price, safety. However, their lifestages may be very different. Some are less inhibited about expressing a need for styling and performance. Others are more rational; cars are basically just transportation.
 Neon's combination of styling, performance and practicality will satisfy the emotional needs of some, and the rational economic conditions of others.
 Whether young, or young-at-heart, Neon's unexpected product strengths and unique, likable personality will make it an exceptional value and a strong personal statement. Neon's world introduction will take place at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1993, sending a message that a new game begins in the very competitive, world-class, small car market.
 Neon production will begin in November 1993, at the Belvidere Assembly Plant, Belvidere, Ill.
 $1.3 billion (including two bodystyles, two- & four-doors; new 2.0-liter, 16-valve, single overhead cam (SOHC) engine and dual overhead cam (DOHC) derivative; new five-speed manual transmission; two satellite stamping plants (Belvidere, Ill., and Toluca, Mexico); new satellite fascia plant (Belvidere, Ill.); renovations to two assembly facilities (Belvidere and Toluca))
 31 months from program approval to Job 1
 740 people on average; includes other Small Car Platform products (unlike LH Team)
 -- Four-doors on sale January 1994
 -- Two-doors on sale September 1994
 Neon and Neon Sport on two- and four-door models
 -- All-new 2.0 liter, 16-valve, single overhead cam (SOHC) - standard on all models in January 1994, 132 hp at 6,000 rpm - 129 foot- pounds at 5,000 rpm
 -- 2.0-liter, 16-valve, double overhead cam (DOHC) - standard on all Sport two- and four-door models in November 1994 - Specifications TBD
 Wheelbase 104.0 inches
 Overall length 171.8 inches
 Overall width 67.4 inches
 Overall height 54.8 inches
 Track (frt./rr.) 57.4 inches
 Weight 2,320 pounds
 -- Cab-forward design with spacious interior and increased visibility
 -- Standard driver & passenger air bags
 -- Three-point active front seatbelts with adjustable turning loops and traveling inboard buckles
 -- Child safety rear door locks
 -- Available integrated child safety seat
 -- Available anti-lock brakes
 -0- 9/7/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Two free photos to accompany this story are available immediately to any media with telephoto receiver or electronic darkroom (PC or Macintosh) that can accept overhead transmissions. To retrieve a photo, please call 214-416-3686.
 A photo is also available on the INS PhotoLink network/
 /CONTACT: Jodi Armstrong of Chrysler, 313-576-9000/

CO: Chrysler Corporation ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: PDT

SM-CB -- DETU01 -- 9139 09/07/93 06:34 EDT
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Date:Sep 7, 1993

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