The Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG has been named as the 2002 Patterson-Greenfield Company of the Year by “African Americans on Wheels” and “Latinos on Wheels” magazines.

The award was presented during the Sixth Annual Urban Wheel Awards at the Detroit Institute of Arts earlier this week.

The gala event is annually held in conjunction with Press Preview Week of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, to honour individuals and corporations for contributions to diversity in the automotive industry.

According to Randi Payton, founder of the Urban Wheel Awards and President and CEO of On Wheels Inc., parent company of “African Americans on Wheels” and “Latinos on Wheels” magazines, DaimlerChrysler was recognized for its “long standing support of diversity.”

Wolfgang Bernhard, Chrysler Group Chief Operating Officer, accepted the award on behalf of the company’s employees. “In spite of our challenges this past year, we have remained true to our values,” said Bernhard.

Specifically, the company’s annual spending with minority vendors and suppliers grew to $2.7 billion; it launched a major diversity motorsports program to increase the number of minority drivers and technicians in the field of motorsports; and Chrysler Group was among the leading corporations with diverse workforces.

Currently, ‘people of colour’ comprise 27 percent of the company’s workforce.

In 1997, the former Chrysler Corporation was named the Patterson- Greenfield Company of the Year. Last year, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was named Car of the Year.

The Patterson-Greenfield Company of the Year Award is named in honour of the first African American coach bus and car company operator. Following a nomination process, award recipients are selected by an independent panel of automotive journalists.