DaimlerChrysler Rolls Out 'FastCar' Program

BOSTON (08/09/2000) - DaimlerChrysler AG sees an opportunity to improve the carmaker's development time, reduce waste and increase the quality of its products with a new program, appropriately named "FastCar."The new Internet-based program, unveiled Wednesday, will link DaimlerChrysler's production creation and volume production processes to the company's procurement and customer network for greater efficiency, the company said in a statement. The technology will also interconnect DaimlerChrysler's design, engineering, manufacturing, quality, finance, procurement and supply, and sales and marketing activities.

The FastCar program will work hand-in-hand with the company's decade old Chrysler Development System, which focuses on innovation and quality while reducing costs and production time, the company said. DaimlerChrysler is "creating a completely new way to communicate information and data within our organization," said James P. Holden, the company's president and chief executive officer, in the statement.

DaimlerChrysler plans to begin implementing the program in October and have the final rollout by October 2004.

Although DaimlerChrysler hopes to speed the development cycle for products by integrating the various manufacturing and design components, one automotive analyst does not see an Internet program as a panacea.

"In any company, there is still the need to get sign off and as long as people are involved ... it is not the be all and end all of production cycles," said Adam J. Weiner, senior auto analyst at Gomez Advisors Inc. in Boston. "If someone is away on vacation everything stops." Other automakers have recently made similar technology announcements similar to the DaimlerChrysler's FastCar program. Covisint, the automotive Internet trade and exchange, also announced its intention to integrate the supply chain to speed production and create a build-to-order manufacturing process.

The announcement serves another purpose as well, Weiner said: "It leaves the impression that they are leaders."It internally lights a fire under the feet of management to deliver on a promise or they will have egg on their faces, Weiner suggested.

Dassault Systems S.A. currently supplies the DaimlerChrysler's CATIA (Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application) system software that has about 4,100 internal users and 5,000 external users. I2 Technologies Inc. will provide the business integration software.

(Ephraim Schwartz, editor at large for InfoWorld, contributed to this report.)DaimlerChrysler, in Stuttgart, Germany and Auburn Hills, Michigan, can +1-248-512-2692 or at http://www.daimlerchrysler.com/.

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