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Thanks! But we’ve already heard about…

by Bill Cawthon on


…the BE701 (shown above) which has been making the rounds of the rumor mills as the next Chrysler Sebring or Nassau or as an electric car to be produced by a joint venture of Chrysler and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. Ltd. (BAIC).

As far as we have been able to determine, the new BE701 is neither of the above. While there is definitely more than a touch of Sebring in its styling, and there may well be some Sebring in its underpinnings, BAIC says the BE701 is a wholly “self-developed” electric car that the Chinese automakers are hoping will sell in volumes of 50,000 units annually.

As to whether the BE701 is a glimpse of Sebrings to come, it’s unlikely: Chrysler no longer has any vehicle joint ventures with BAIC. It was part of the Beijing-Benz DaimlerChyrsler joint venture but withdrew over a year ago, long before the Chrysler alliance with Fiat and the changes in development of the mid-size car were implemented. Chrysler’s only Chinese joint venture at this point is with Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group Co.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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