In the face of distracting, high-power stock maneuvers,continues to make strategic moves designed to strengthen its position as the most profitable (per vehicle) carmaker among the domestic Big Three. The company is converting its Detroit-based Dodge Viper plant (Viper gets a new Detroit home) to produce engines. In August Chrysler announced it would build a $1-billion truck transmission plant in Kokomo, IN, to replace the old one there. Both plants enable the company to produce upgraded and technologically advanced powertrains. Accompanying U.S. normalization of relations with Vietnam, Chrysler expects approval of its application to build a car- and truck-assembly plant there. That would give the automaker a strategic assembly point from which to feed vehicles into the Asia/Pacific basin, the world's fastest growing auto market. It also signals Japanese automakers that Chrysler intends to be a major player in the region.