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DaimlerChrysler kills off Plymouth

Final fling: The Prowler will be one of the last cars wearing the Plymouth badge.

One of the traditional names of American motoring has come to the end of the road

Chrysler logo5 Nov 1999

THE Plymouth brand name has been killed off by DaimlerChrysler, ending 71 years of tradition for the American marque.

Falling sales and a desire to expand the Chrysler brand consigned Plymouth to the scrap heap.

Plymouth began production in 1928 as a low-price rival to Ford and Chevrolet but has shared most of its model line-up with Chrysler and Dodge since the 1960s.

Sales peaked at more than 740,000 units in 1973 thanks to the success of the Duster coupe but sales have steadily declined to below 250,000 units this year.

Plymouth is now a US-only brand, selling the Neon, Breeze, Voyager, Grand Voyager and Prowler passenger vehicles.

The Voyager mini-van, Plymouth's mainstay model, has been under attack from Honda and Toyota and will be sold from next month as a Chrysler - as it is in Australia and other foreign markets.

The mid-size Breeze - already sold as the Chrysler Cirrus and Dodge Stratus - will be discontinued at the end of this year, leaving the small Neon (already sold as a Dodge) and the Prowler hot-rod as Plymouth's only models before they also become Chrysler models in 2001.

There will be few problems with dealers in the US as a result of the decision because of 2959 outlets selling Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge and Jeep - only three sell Plymouths exclusively.

The president of DaimlerChrysler Corp, Mr James Holden, said it was a difficult decision to axe Plymouth, but it was necessary to rebuild Chrysler globally.

"This was an emotional decision because Plymouth will always be an important part of our heritage," said Mr Holden on Wednesday.

"(But) our goal is to increase our automotive presence around the world and to do that we need to focus our resources and our efforts on growth opportunities.

"The Chrysler brand has tremendous worldwide growth potential for cars. We have made the decision to broaden and further strengthen the Chrysler brand with new, exciting cars.

"Chrysler has great momentum right now that we intend to keep going (and) Plymouth, as a US brand only, did not contribute to that growth."

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