Only a week after the last Dodge Viper rolled off the line at the Conner Avenue plant in Detroit, production of another iconic Chrysler LLC group model, the PT Cruiser, is coming to an end today at the Toluca plant in Mexico. But unlike with the Viper, Chrysler isn’t making much of a big deal about the PT Cruiser’s end as the company hasn’t even bothered to issue an official press release – or at least it hasn’t done so up until now.
Originally conceived as a Plymouth model, the retro-shaped and styled compact crossover ended up in the market in 2000 with the Chrysler badge. Its love-it-or-loathe-it design was the work of Brian Nesbit who later on joined GM creating the very-PT Cruiser-like, Chevrolet HHR.
Even though the PT Cruiser was conceived more as an attention-grabber than a high-volume seller, the surprisingly practical crossover turned out to be so successful that buyers were kept on waiting lists. For a while it was the best-selling Chrysler-brand vehicle,” Jim Hall, managing director of consultancy 2953 Analytics, told the L.A. Times.
And not only that, but it was also an extremely profitable model as it made use of an existing small-car platform and was built in a low-cost country [Mexico] – though it was also produced by Magna Steyr in Austria. “It is the most profitable small car in Chrysler history”, Autonews quoted Brian Nesbitt as saying.
Over the years, Chrysler presented a bevy of special edition versions including a Woodie model, as well as a soft-top Convertible and a sportier variant equipped with a turbocharged inline-four.
In the first eight years of production, annual sales were constantly above 120,000 peaking at 192,000 units in 2001. However, due to the fact that Chrysler never bothered to redesign the car, sales dipped under 70,0000 in 2008 and 25,000 last year. Overall, Chrysler sold 1.3 million PT Cruisers, including 200,000 units outside the U.S.
Sadly – for Chrysler as well as for the car’s fans- there are no known plans for the introduction of a second generation of the PT Cruiser.