Chrysler and Mitsubishi will build small and midsize cars on variations of the same chassis rather than as separate projects as planned, a Chrysler executive told Bloomberg News.

Chrysler executive vice president of product development Richard Schaum told Bloomberg News that the two car makers would get “significant” savings by pooling basic designs among future versions of as many as nine current models when they begin selling redesigned models in about 2005.

The vehicles are now built on four platforms, Bloomberg said, adding that Schaum declined to comment on the savings.

“They could probably share as much as 30% of the parts between the small and midsize cars if they did it just right,” CSM Worldwide analyst Michael Robinet told Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg News said Chrysler and Mitsubishi, 37% owned by DaimlerChrysler, are cooperating as they try to increase profits after recovering from losses this year.

According to Bloomberg News, Robinet said it costs the car maker about $US15 million to engineer the brake systems alone, so they save for each duplicate system eliminated.

Chrysler will save $100 million by using a Mercedes-Benz transmission in sedans due in 2004, Schaum added, according to Bloomberg News.

Citing Schaum, the news service said the two companies would use the basic chassis and suspension components planned for the next generation of Mitsubishi Lancer and the replacement for the Dodge Neon and stretch and modify them to build the larger Dodge Stratus and Mitsubishi Galant sedans and other midsize models. Originally, the midsize and small cars were separate projects.

Bloomberg said the Chrysler-Mitsubishi approach reflects that taken by Honda, which makes a smaller variant of the Accord for Japan and Europe, a larger version for the US [and Australia/New Zealand plus some Asian markets] and also stretches it even more to underpin the Odyssey minivan.