June 16, 2008 - 12:01 am ET
The Dodge Hornet concept car, which caused a buzz at the 2006 Geneva auto show, is likely to go into production next year and will be built for Chrysler LLC by Nissan Motor Co., sources say.
"We are working intensely on the Hornet study," Thomas Hausch, Chrysler vice president of international sales, said in a story last week in the Financial Times Deutschland. "I think we will announce something on this in the future."
Industry sources familiar with Chrysler's plans say the Hornet will be the first fruit from the cooperation between Chrysler and Nissan.
In January, the two companies jointly announced that Nissan will begin building a car for Chrysler at its Oppama, Japan, factory in 2009 for the 2010 model year. The car will be based on the Nissan Versa subcompact.
The Hornet concept was a three-door hatchback with more than a passing resemblance to the Mini Cooper. Industry sources familiar with Chrysler's plans say the Hornet will likely be an upscale small car designed to compete against the Mini.
Chrysler also plans other small cars, to be built in China with Chery Automobile Co. and aimed at budget buyers. Chrysler has set no production date for those cars and is continuing development work with Chery.