DETROIT â The platform that emerges fromLLCâs pivotal âProject Dâ must have the flexibility to support a wide range of vehicles, the auto makerâs executive vice president-product development says.
âThe goal is to service the global marketplace,â Frank Klegon tells Wardâs here at SAE World Congress. âWhat we have to decide is, is that one execution of one platform? I hope so. Because itâs all about volume.â
The vehicles based on Project Dâs platform will be in the midsize segment, which is a âvery, very challenging market to make money on,â Klegon adds.
And a program that does not portend significant margins is a non-starter for.
Says Klegon: âYouâve got to be profitable.Youâve got to satisfy the customer. So youâd like to create a platform that doesnât need a lot of changing to meet unique market requirements.
âYou have to figure out a way that the basic architecture, the basic bones of the platform can be adjusted or tweaked, so you can get the variants.â
Project D itself has undergone considerable tweaking since it was announced in January. With last monthâs exit of team leader Mike Donoughe, who left Chrysler, Mark Chernoby has taken charge.
Most recently, Chernoby had been vice president-core components, processes and international engineering. Jim Issner has left his advanced engineering post to assume Chernobyâs former duties, while ENVI Inc. President Lou Rhodes adds Issnerâs former job to his role as developer of Chryslerâs advanced propulsion strategies.
All three executives have backgrounds related to their new assignments. Chernoby âslides in there very comfortably, and we didnât skip a beat,â says Klegon, who quashes the widely reported notion that Project D is focused solely on car development.
It must achieve greater flexibility than Chryslerâs current D-segment platform, which supports the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring midsize car lines, as well as the all-new Dodge Journey cross/utility vehicle.
âThe LX platform is a very versatile platform,â Klegon says, referring to the underpinnings of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger fullsize, rear-wheel-drive cars, as well as the pending Dodge Challenger lineup of muscle coupes.
âWe havenât done anything narrower or wider, yet, off it,â Klegon says. âBut weâve done a lot of things with different lengths and overhangs, different body styles and things like that. (With Project D), youâve got to think everything form a 3-door hatchback to a tall crossover vehicle. Because that segment size is all over the world in different incarnations.â
Klegon, this yearâs World Congress general chairman, uses the event to give a clearer view of other future Chrysler technologies. The market will see:
- A backup-warning system that covers a driverâs lateral field of vision in the â09 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.
- A radar-based blind-spot monitoring system to enable safer lane-changes, also on Chryslerâs â09 minivans,
- Enhanced voice-activated, hands-free phone capability on the â09 minivans; 300; Charger; Sebring; Avenger; Journey; Jeep Patriot and Compass CUVs; Dodge Dakota and Ram pickups; Chrysler Aspen, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander, and Dodge Nitro and Dodge Durango SUVs.
- Full iPod integration for the â09 minivans; 300; Grand Cherokee, Commander, Compass, Patriot; and Dodge Challenger, Charger and Journey.