Chrysler Scraps Plans For Imperial’s Return

Automaker pulls the plug on what would have been its largest and heaviest luxury car because of anticipated U.S. fuel efficiency standards.

DETROIT (AP) - Chrysler said Tuesday it has pulled the plug on planned production of what would have been its largest and heaviest luxury car because of expected increases in U.S. fuel efficiency standards.
Officials said the decision to scrap a production version of the Imperial—shown as a concept at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit—was made during the past two weeks.
''The decision to build the Imperial concept was always contingent upon our ability to create a profitable business case for the vehicle,'' said David Elshoff, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group. ''There was no way we could do that.''
He said legislation passed in the U.S. Senate that would require the auto industry to meet a combined vehicle standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 prompted the decision to halt production plans.
''That was the motivating factor,'' Elshoff said.
No other vehicles in Chrysler's truck-heavy lineup currently face elimination because of the anticipated benchmarks, he said.
A production version of the Imperial was to have been built at Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, plant. Elshoff said a decision likely will be made by the end of the year about future investment in the 3,500-employee plant that also produces the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, Charger and Challenger.
Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove said Tuesday that he was told a week ago by Chrysler Group officials that the Imperial was being scrapped. He said preliminary production plans called for about 50,000 annual units, requiring three shifts and overtime.
Hargrove said Chrysler officials told him they will instead shift to the Brampton plant production of about 30,000 Chrysler 300C vehicles currently built in Austria by Magna International Inc.
Hargrove said Chrysler's decision does not contradict a March agreement between the company and Brampton local union members that promised an investment of about $670 million toward increased production of the 300C models.
But he expressed concern about the prospect of automakers quickly changing in anticipation of tightening U.S. fuel efficiency standards.
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