LOS ANGELES – Published reports say suppliers have been told to cease working on the next-generation Chrysler Pacifica cross/utility vehicle, but Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler Group vice president-sales and marketing, says the auto maker is not backing away from the swiftly growing CUV segment.

Speaking with a small group of reporters following the introduction of the Chrysler Sebring convertible at the auto show here, Eberhardt does not specifically deny the next-generation Pacifica program is being cancelled.

However, he says Chrysler recently invested heavily in improvements in the current product. Given the expanding popularity of CUVs, it would be wrong for Chrysler to cut back on product in one of the industry’s fastest-growing segments, he adds.

Chrysler recently introduced a new Jeep CUV, the Compass, and plans another debut this month with the Jeep Patriot. But Eberhardt’s comments seem to suggest the auto maker may be eyeing a different platform for the next-generation replacement for the Pacifica.

The new Pacifica was to be based on Chrysler’s minivan architecture. It currently rides on a unique platform.

dwinter@wardsauto.com