DaimlerChrysler Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. appear to be a giant step closer to firming plans to co-develop small C- (Dodge Neon/Mitsubishi Mirage and Lancer) and D-segment (Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Stratus/Mitsubishi Galant and Eclipse) car platforms, but a DCC official promises two unique-looking vehicles from the outside.

The two automakers already have formed a joint procurement and supply team, and components are out for bid to see how much can be shared between the next-generation cars, a DCC official tells WAW. He says the next-generation Neon and Lancer architectures should be close to 68% identical, what he says is the maximum amount for vehicles with exclusive sheet metal and interiors. However, he promises the similarities will only be under the skin and denies badge engineering will be used.

At best only about 40% of upcoming replacements for the Mitsubishi Galant/Eclipse and Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Sebring will be shared because Mitsubishi already is two years along in development of the new Galant platform.

Chrysler and Mitsubishi share few suppliers, much less than Chrysler and Mercedes, and some manufacturers that now provide parts for the Neon, Mirage/Lancer, Stratus/Sebring or Galant/Eclipse will lose business as the new platforms are developed. Sourcing decisions will be made by the joint Chrysler/Mitsubishi team.

In other platform-sharing news, Chrysler's Crossfire rival for the Audi TT will not be built on the current Mercedes-Benz SLK platform, says Wolfgang Bernhard, Chrysler Group chief operating officer. Wheel size is one culprit, as the SLK can only accommodate 17-in. wheels, 2 ins. less than what the Crossfire will likely have. However, the new platform does borrow the current Mercedes C-Class suspension, and the expectation is that includes the rack-and-pinion steering.