Chrysler Belvidere Plant To Prepare For New Small Car

Chrysler Group will announce plans in a couple of weeks to temporarily close its Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant for six to eight weeks starting late this year to convert the facility to a new lineup of small cars for the 2006 model year.

Tom LaSorda, chief operating officer of Chrysler, said first up at the plant will be a successor to the compact Dodge Neon, the only vehicle now built there. The Neon replacement was developed with Mitsubishi, in which Chrysler owns a roughly 25 percent interest.

LaSorda said Belvidere will produce a family of small vehicles, starting with one model. He wouldn't comment on reports the Neon replacement produced first will be a crossover vehicle.

"We'll start with one model and add others on a staggered basis as the market demands," he said.

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