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PVO New Chrysler Group For Specialty Vehicles Formed

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan. 8 -- While Dodge owners have been busy grabbing life by the horns, Chrysler Group executives and engineers have been grabbing life by the throttle with plans to create a new performance group and some of the most outrageous production vehicles ever developed by DaimlerChrysler Corp.

Officially known as Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO), the new engineering team combines Chrysler Group's specialty vehicle and motorsports know-how, much like the profitable high-end vehicle conversion group at Mercedes-AMG.

``No other automaker has leveraged such resources to this extent,'' said Jim Schroer, Executive Vice President, DaimlerChrysler Corp. Sales and Marketing. ``We are combining our extensive motorsports experience, along with our legendary Viper development team and our Mopar Performance Parts, to create a line of extreme performance vehicles that will blow past everyone else.''

``PVO brings together the best performance development processes, durable high-performance parts and some of our most talented and experienced motorsports and performance car engineers to produce truly exciting cars and trucks,'' added Schroer.

The PVO Philosophy

Performance Vehicle Operations will become a profit center within the Chrysler Group focusing on enhancing Dodge, Jeep® and Chrysler brand product lines and image through high-end, limited-volume specialty vehicles.

Chrysler Group executives see an opportunity to expand the Chrysler Group's portfolio of specialty vehicles, performance models and performance parts.

But in an effort to differentiate the PVO-engineered lines from their super-premium Mercedes-Benz AMG counterparts, the Chrysler Group is committed to a balance of value and performance in line with its popular Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge brands.

PVO performance models engineered for the Dodge brand will carry the SRT badge. While Chrysler and Jeep performance lines will be announced in the future, Dodge SRT models are already being prepared for retail sale, beginning with the newly renamed 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10, available in Fall 2002. With today's announcement, Viper officially becomes a member of the SRT family.

For Dodge, the SRT model-line philosophy represents a new twist, offering significant performance enhancements and a visual appeal. But as compared with Dodge's R/T credo of ``contemporary interpretations of performance,'' SRT will come to stand for ``ultimate interpretations of performance.''

The Dodge SRT performance signature includes: high-output engine performance, sport suspensions, aggressive aerodynamic packages, performance wheel and tire packages, sport interiors and performance exhausts and brakes.

The Dodge SRT Product Line

The newly renamed Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible was first debuted to the public at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Its promise of more than 500 cubic inches of engine displacement, generating a minimum of 500 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque will set it apart from any sports car made today.

Joining the Viper SRT-10 is Dodge SRT-4, the first sub-six-second production compact available under $20,000. Introduced Jan. 4, at the 2002 Los Angeles International Auto Show, the SRT-4 packs 205 horsepower of turbocharged fury capable of 5.9-second 0-60 mph sprints, 148 miles per hour top speed and aimed at toppling even the hottest compact imports.

Just days after the SRT-4 unveiling, the third SRT model was today revealed as a concept vehicle. The Dodge Ram SRT-10, powered by the same 8.3-liter aluminum V-10 engine that powers the legendary Viper, becomes the biggest, baddest, most menacing truck in the world.

High-end Chrysler and Jeep models will be announced at a future date.

Performance Vehicle Operations also will centralize motorsports engineering resources and management. Based on the World Championship-winning Dodge Viper GTS-R program, PVO will become the Chrysler Group's center of expertise for application of technology in racing programs.

At the same time, Performance Vehicle Operations will lead new product development efforts for the Mopar brand of performance parts.

Dialing into consumer trends, PVO and Mopar will look to further expand their share of the $7.5 billion specialty equipment retail market, which includes performance and customizations. As a market that has grown 72 percent since 1990, it is a natural fit for the Chrysler Group's well-known Mopar Performance Parts division. And based on their performance enhancements to production and racing vehicles, Performance Vehicles Operations was the first choice to lead the application of engineering resources necessary to bring Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep owners the most durable, highest quality performance parts.

The Performance Vehicle Operations Mission

The team that brought the Viper and Prowler to life expands its role to engineer and produce high-profile specialty vehicles for the Chrysler Group As demonstrated by the Viper Competition Coupe, SRT-4 and Ram SRT-10 concept, PVO works with product platforms to engineer and produce image vehicle conversions that support product image objectives As demonstrated by Viper and Prowler, PVO provides a test bed for implementing new products, processes and material technologies for potential future high-volume applications PVO engineers enthusiast, aftermarket-driven, performance packages for release through Mopar as another method of providing corporate brand imaging Based on experience gained with the Viper GTS-R international endurance racing championship-winning program, PVO provides technical expertise in support of all corporate motorsports programs PVO provides a valued career path for the best Chrysler Group engineers The History of Performance Vehicle Operations

Exactly 13 years ago, an outrageous V-10-powered concept car was unleashed on the public at Detroit's North American International Auto Show.

Coming from a company known more for leading the front-wheel drive revolution among American sedans, creating the forerunner of the sport-utility vehicle popularity and inventing an entirely new automotive market segment with the minivan, the Dodge Viper's show-stopping design and over-the-top performance claims brought the company a whole new kind of attention.

Enthusiasts were outspoken in their demands for a new American muscle car. And Chrysler executives called up their fondest Woodward Avenue memories and made a decision that would inspire the company for decades to come.

Build it, they declared.

And so, a team was formed.

The search was made company-wide to find men and women with an enthusiastic passion for cars, an openness to out-of-the-box thinking and a willingness to step into a new risk-taking venture.

That group came to be known as Team Viper and in less than three years, it delivered the first production version of that remarkable Dodge Viper show car.

In the 13 years that elapsed since its inception, Team Viper became known as Specialty Vehicles Engineering after joining up with Team Prowler. With today's announcement, the group formally becomes Performance Vehicles Operations (PVO).

During that time span, the former Specialty Vehicles Engineering has been a hive of racing and engineering development activity at the Chrysler Group.

Specialty Vehicle Engineering Programs

Four years after the initial launch of the Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster, Team Viper went back to the drawing board to create the 1996 Viper GTS Coupe. More than simply adding a roof to the roadster body, the GTS featured a more powerful engine, all-aluminum suspension and stiffer frame. The improvements were introduced to the RT/10 the following year.

About that same time, Plymouth was introducing the Prowler, another concept-to-reality story from Chrysler Corporation. This hot rod-style retro car originally debuted at the 1993 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where it was a true showstopper. In 1997, production of the aluminum-intensive, handcrafted specialty vehicle began alongside the Viper at Chrysler Group's Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit. Shortly thereafter, SVE was formed when Team Viper and Team Prowler merged.

In 1997, a Team Viper-developed, all-out racing version of the GTS Coupe called the GTS-R was unveiled. The GTS-R featured a carbon fiber and Kevlar composite body and a race-tuned engine producing more than 600 horsepower. In partnership with the French Team ORECA, the car went on to an unprecedented string of international endurance racing successes including the 1997-1999 FIA GT2 Championships, 1989-2000 Le Mans GTS Class wins and the overall win at the 2000 Daytona 24 Hours.

To mark the 1997 FIA GT2 championship-winning success of their GTS-R, Dodge worked with Team Viper to unveil a limited-edition run of 100 individually numbered Dodge Viper GT2 commemorative models for 1998 featuring the same white with blue stripe graphics of the race car. The cars also featured high-mounted racing-style rear wings, front splitters, ground effects and blue interior accents with ``Viper GTS-R'' seat inserts, five-point restraint system and other special features.

Meanwhile, the Team Viper side of Specialty Vehicles Engineering also developed club-racing versions of the Dodge Neon (1998) and Viper GTS (1999) known as American Club Racing (ACR) models. The limited-volume, street-legal ACR packages deliver enhanced performance and handling. They are designed to meet the demands of grassroots racers looking for affordable, competitive entries.

Shortly after revealing the new Viper SRT-10 Convertible, Specialty Vehicles Engineering once again demonstrated their prowess for performance tuning. In August 2001, Dodge showed off the Viper Competition Coupe, a closed-cockpit competition model based on the next generation Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible. With concept car bodywork, full racing cage and other safety features, the Competition Coupe was designed to be an affordable, limited-production race car for competition-oriented owners. The event also served as an unofficial debut of the new Performance Vehicles Engineering organization.

Mercedes-AMG Leader Joins Chrysler Group

When Wolfgang Bernhard was named Chief Operating Officer of DaimlerChrysler Corporation on November 17, 2000, Specialty Vehicle Engineering gained an experienced supporter.

Before being named as the executive responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Chrysler Group, Bernhard led a world-famous Stuttgart, Germany-based performance group known as AMG.

As Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, Bernhard oversaw the processes that took the high-technology Formula One expertise of Mercedes-Benz and applied it to Mercedes-Benz production cars in the form of Mercedes-AMG models.

Originally, a single AMG-Mercedes production model was offered in 1995 -- the CL36 AMG. The number has grown, however, to include seven models and more than 5,000 vehicles annually. AMG models are recognized by enthusiasts as being the top performance models in the Mercedes-Benz line.

Bernhard, now at the Chrysler Group in Auburn Hills, Mich., saw the same potential for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles. And the natural leaders for such an in-house technical group would be a group to be known as Performance Vehicle Operations, the former Specialty Vehicle Engineering team that had earned a reputation for success based on its work with the Dodge Viper and Chrysler Prowler.

Team Viper, Team Prowler, Specialty Vehicles Engineering and Performance Vehicle Operations Programs, 1989-2002

Team Viper Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster Dodge Viper GTS Coupe Dodge Viper GTS-R Dodge Viper GT2 Dodge Neon ACR

Team Prowler Chrysler Prowler

Specialty Vehicles Engineering Dodge Viper ACR Dodge Viper SRT-10

Performance Vehicles Operations Dodge Viper Competition Coupe Dodge SRT-4 Dodge Ram SRT-10 Concept