The success of the 300C sedan, the 5.7-liter Hemi engine and high expectations for the Dodge Magnum launching this week and Dodge Charger due out next year has Chrysler thinking about boosting production to meet demand, according to The Car Connection (TCC) website.

“Demand for both the 300C and the Hemi has been beyond our wildest dreams,” Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche told TCC.

The report said Hemi production began in June 2002 at the Saltillo plant in Mexico, with a projected production of 440,000 engines a year, and only about a quarter of those engines were planned to be used in heavy-duty pickups, with the rest expected to end up in large cars like the 300C and Dodge Magnum, Grand Cherokees, Dakotas, Durangos, and light-duty pickups.

Zetsche reportedly said production has already been increased through the breaking of some bottlenecks, and that the company is putting plans in place to add some production through extra shifts and other means. “We are much more flexible in Mexico with regard to what we can do versus our US plants,” Zetsche, who stopped short of saying an additional production line would be added, told TCC.

The Car Connection said production of the 300C recently was slowed at the Brampton, Ontario, plant, which also produces the Dodge Magnum, so that an adequate supply of the Magnum could get out to dealers.

Zetsche reportedly is talking about changes to the traditional two-week summer shutdown to cope with demand. “We are talking with the union to see what is possible,” he told TCC.

Asked if he is surprised by the early interest in the 300C, Zetsche reportedly said, “I wouldn’t recommend planning for this kind of success.”

To the end of May, Chrysler sold 23,000 300/300C vehicles after it arrived in showrooms in March – that compares with 17,000 [predecessor] Concordes sold in the first five months of last year, TCC said.

Marketing consultant Dennis Keene told The Car Connection: “Full-size sedans was a dead market, and Chrysler is pumping new life and energy into it – it’s like finding gold in a mine you thought had been tapped out.”

The website said that success should be enough to get Chrysler to lay off rebates, but a $US1000 rebate remains for buyers who finance through Chrysler Credit.

“As successful as the 300C is, buyers in this segment are addicted to rebates and the dealers tell us we have to have one to stay competitive,” Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines told TCC.

“People told us when we started out with the Magnum that station wagons are dead, and I said, I don’t give a sh*t, whatever it is we will double it by delivering a functional car people want,” Zetsche reportedly said.

TCC noted that some Chrysler insiders, though, are more cautious in projecting as much success for the Magnum as is being enjoyed by the 300C.

To hedge its bets, Chrysler will add the Dodge Charger to production next year in case interest in the Magnum cools or underperforms expectations – then it can easily dial production up and down among the three models to cope with demand, The Car Connection said.