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Dodge Hornet 'could be partnered with Nissan'

Published: 12 June 2008

Chrysler could work with Nissan to produce its long-awaited, super-butch supermini the Dodge Hornet, CAR Online has learned. The concept car was first shown back in 2006 and is being readied for a launch in 2010.

Chrysler had been negotiating with Chinese car maker Chery, but according to CAR's sources it could now be developed with Nissan. The two companies are already working together on a mid-sized car based on the Versa for south America as well as trucks in the US – it is used to working on quick, tactical deals whereas the Chery deal was taking too long.

On 14 April, the two companies confirmed Nissan would manufacture an 'all-new, fuel-efficient small car based on a unique Chrysler concept and design.' The car is aimed at North America and Europe and will be launched in 2010. We now hear that the Hornet could be part of this deal.

A Japanese-American mongrel then?

We rather like the sound of it, actually. Engines and parts could be shared between the two companies to help reduce costs and having Japanese engineering underneath the characterful Hornet bodywork could be just the thing.

Thomas Hausch, Chrysler’s vice president for international purchasing, confirmed to Automotive News Europe that there was movement on the Hornet concept, that was first shown in Geneva in 2006.

‘We are working intensely on the Hornet study,' he said. 'I think we will announce something on this in the future.'  He also hinted there could be a Chrysler version.

Why do a Hornet?

It's perfect timing to do a supermini. With record fuel prices and eco awareness, the world is turning against the big, heavy cars that make Chrysler money. CAR Magazine probed the company's business case in our April 2008 issue, and concluded that the company desperately needed smaller cars to survive. The Hornet – a more macho Mini – could be part of the solution.

Our sources say the general dimensions and squat looks of the concept are here to stay. It's B-segment long, but C-segment wide – making for an unusual supermini. And that concept was powered by the old Cooper S's Chrysler-sourced supercharged 1.6... Now that's a thought.

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