Dodge's two-seat roadster concept will be built, but on front-drive Chery platform
14 January 2008

The Dodge Demon sports car concept will have a future in production, Autocar has learned, but it won't be the rear-driven Mazda MX-5-chaser we were hoping for.The road-going Demon will switch to a Chinese-built front-wheel drive platform for production. Chrysler will engineer the design on a platform shared with Chinese car-maker Chery as part of a wider co-operation to create supermini-sized hatchbacks and saloons that the Chrysler and Dodge brands can sell in Europe and North America.“A small sports car is still on our wish list and in the product plan. The Demon is a B-segment-size car and it would be on the new B-segment platform from China,” Chrysler engineering boss Tom LaSorda said yesterday at the Detroit motor show."One of the reasons the rear-drive Demon concept will switch to front-drive is emissions regulations," said LaSorda. He said that a direct-injection petrol engine was in development for the car. With an eye on future European C02 targets of 130g/km, that will help cut CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy. However, it's dependent on the use of the Chery mechanicals.

Will quality be up to scratch?

What the Chinese production source means for the quality of the finished product is still a major unknown. The few cars exported from China to Europe so far suffer from poor quality and engineering standards in comparison to their western and Asian competition.However, the Demon's price ought to be keen, suggesting that it ought to undercut the competition, the Mazda MX-5, Opel GT and the forthcoming new car from Renault Alpine.Another unknown is when the Dodge Demon will go into production. Chrysler is talking 2009 for its Chinese-built hatchback, but it's still negotiating the details of its contract with Chery.Quizzed about the apparent slow speed at which these negotiations are progressing, LaSorda joked: “I don’t know if you’ve ever negotiated in China, but if you know a way of speeding things up, I’d like to talk to you.”

Julian Rendell

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