GOOGLE found this article about the Chrysler CCV. Developed in 1997.... aimed at the CHINA market, killed when Daimler took over Chrysler.
Sounds like a neat idea for an urban commuter car....
Published: October 3, 1997 The Chrysler Corp. has developed a small car aimed at developing nations that would cost half as much as its cheapest American-built model, would be almost totally recyclable and could go 50 miles on a gallon of gasoline. Perhaps more important, it could be made in a way that eliminates expensive and pollution-prone operations in assembly plants, with body panels molded from the plastic used for soda bottles.
And Chrysler says the Composite Concept Vehicle, or CCV, could lead to drastic changes in the way it makes all its cars and trucks.
The CCV stemmed from a challenge to the company's advanced engineering operation, called the Liberty group, from Robert A. Lutz, Chrysler's vice chairman, and Francois J. Castaing, the executive vice president for international operations. Holding toy cars in their hands, the executives urged the engineers to build real cars that would be just as simple. The CCV that resulted was shown to the public last month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Liberty's engineers were inspired by two cars famous for their simplicity: the Citroen 2CV, a basic front-wheel-drive car developed in France before World War II and sold until 1990, and the Volkswagen Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930's as Germany's ''people's car.''
The CCV sedan is every bit as simple as the Beetle and 2CV, and its design, with a tall cabin, flat sides and rounded nose, intentionally resembles the Citroen.
In its initial configuration, the CCV is powered by a tiny 2-cylinder, 25-horsepower engine. Its 50 m.p.g. economy rating, on either leaded or unleaded gasoline, is aided by its light weight -- just 1,200 pounds. Because the engine is air cooled, there is no need for a radiator.
At roughly 12 feet long, the CCV is 2 feet shorter than Chrysler's Neon but is 10 inches taller and far more roomy, with seating for five and room for their overnight bags. Its ''convertible top'' is a canvas tarpaulin that can be rolled back.
The CCV's 8.8 inches of ground clearance, on par with the rugged Jeep Wrangler, allows the CCV to traverse primitive third-world roads or to blaze its own trail.
The car's bare-bones qualities were evident during a brief drive recently at Chrysler's test track here. The car is missing many features that drivers in the West have long taken for granted. With no power steering, the driver must crank the wheel hard. The brakes -- also lacking power assist -- require firm foot pressure. The steering-column shifter for the four-speed manual transmission requires multiple motions to change a gear.
This is not a car for German Autobahns or unlimited-speed interstates in Montana. Loaded with four people, the CCV barely hit 50 kilometers an hour, or 31 miles an hour. With the gas pedal to the floor and no passengers, it reached about 50 m.p.h.
The interior was noisy but not deafening. There are no amenities. A half-dozen pull-out knobs control features like the air vents and the single windshield wiper. The window washer is sprayed by pushing a device like the trigger of a water pistol. A knob is used to slide the windows up and down. The seats -- with foam padding instead of the lawn-chair webbing considered for some other cheap cars -- were comfortable.
Chrysler says that if the CCV goes into production it will sell for $6,000, about half the price of a Neon. Potential buyers may be people in Asia who are now riding motor scooters, said Thomas Moore, general manager of the Liberty group.
The CCV consists of five basic parts: a full-frame steel structure and four plastic body panels (two for the inside, two for the outside). The body panels are the largest of their kind ever made, Mr. Moore said.
New technology was required to mold the panels and meet the goals for the car's cost and weight. More than 20 patents related to the manufacturing process are pending.
The plastics used in the car are the same as those used for drink bottles, a ready supply of which exists in emerging markets. To be precise, the CCV's body is made of 2,132 two-liter bottles. At the end of the car's life, 15 percent of its plastic can be turned into more CCV's; the rest can be recycled into products like park benches.
Plastics have the long held the advantage over steel of being lightweight, which is crucial for fuel efficiency, and they are resistant to dings and dents. But the material has been expensive, although the cost has been reduced by using recycled plastics and new processing methods.
The parts are molded in color -- baby blue, in the case of the CCV -- eliminating the need for a costly paint shop in the auto-assembly complex. At an average cost of $350 million, paint shops are among the most expensive parts of an assembly plant, and their emissions are troublesome.
The rest of the assembly operation would also be quite simple. A Neon requires 75 to 100 stampings into its metal body structure. But as Chrysler envisions the CCV's manufacturing operation, plastic would be injected into giant molds and the resulting panels could immediately be bonded with adhesive. The CCV would have only 1,100 parts, compared with 4,000 for a conventional vehicle, and it would take only 6.5 hours to build one, compared with 19 for the Neon.
Because there would be no paint shop or body-assembly area, a CCV plant would require less land. While the Neon manufacturing operation occupies two million square feet of space in several buildings, the CCV could be built under a single roof in 300,000 square feet.
''The manufacturing concept is innovative but feasible,'' said Jim Harbor of Harbor & Associates, a manufacturing consulting firm in Troy, Mich.
Mr. Moore, the Liberty manager, said that once the process was perfected, it could be used on other Chrysler vehicles. But first, cars with the molded bodies must satisfy safety regulators in Europe and North America. In addition, Mr. Moore said consumers in Western countries, accustomed to glossy paint, might not like the panels' matte finish. ''We're trying to figure out a way to create a shiny surface using the same process,'' he said.
And although the panels are easy to repair -- the damaged section can be cut away and replaced with another piece of plastic -- the result is quite noticeable. The long-term durability of the large pieces of bonded plastic is also unknown.
For now, the CCV offers a promising opportunity for Chrysler in emerging markets like India and China. It could be in production by 2000.
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