Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chrysler ditches luxurious Imperial

Actress Eva Longoria won’t be able to get the car that she desperately wanted.

Longoria, one of the stars of the television series Desperate Housewives, wished for the Chrysler Imperial when the company introduced it as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show in January 2006. But Chrysler confirmed yesterday that it has decided not to proceed with production of the bulky luxury car at the Brampton assembly plant.

Ed Saenz, manager of corporate communications for DaimlerChrysler Canada, attributed the demise of the project to escalating gasoline prices and more government regulations on fuel economy, which would cut into the vehicle’s popularity.

“The business case couldn’t be made for it,” Saenz said.

Insiders said the Imperial, which would have been the heaviest model in Chrysler’s line-up, needed to generate demand of more than 40,000 annually to make business sense. The rear-wheel concept model was 43 centimetres longer than the Chrysler 300 and 15 centimetres higher. The Imperial featured a 5.7 litre HEMI V8 engine with 340 horsepower, five-speed automatic transmission and 22-inch wheels.

At the 2006 show, beaming Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda introduced the Imperial as the actress beamed at his side. “The only thing I’m desperate for now is an Imperial of my own,” Longoria gushed.

LaSorda also said earlier this year that he wanted to build the Imperial. But LaSorda and other top Chrysler executive committee members met about three weeks ago and decided against producing the Imperial in view of persistent high fuel prices and a continuing public focus on more environmentally friendly vehicles.

-Tony Van Alphen

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