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Chrysler Corp. had high hopes for the new family of four-door minivans it launched last fall after spending $2.6 billion on the redesign-the most it had ever invested in a vehicle development project. Yet Chrysler wasn't sure the models would be a hit, says A.C. "Bud" Liebler.

"We were messing with success, so it was a little scary. After all, we were basically reinventing an icon," says Mr. Liebler, who until last month was VP-marketing and communications.

"Now we're eating everyone's lunch."

He credits the sales success to four-door convenience, versatile cup holders that can even hold juice boxes and extra storage areas on board.

The idea for the extra door came from minivan owners and employees, but he was the one to make the fourth door the focus of marketing efforts.

Chrysler spent an estimated $100 million launching three models: Dodge Caravan (its best-selling minivan), Plymouth Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country. For the first time, Town & Country was targeted at luxury buyers, with ads from Bozell, Southfield, Mich., showing it at golf courses.

The Caravan held its own; Motor Trend broke tradition, handing the Dodge minivan its Best Car of The Year award, touted in ads by BBDO Worldwide.

Mr. Liebler, 53, says Chrysler's share of the minivan market hovers around 46%. The share had fallen to the high 30s as plants were retooled. The marketer expects to build and sell some 700,000 this year, up from the 550,000-plus last year. "If you're an icon, you have to keep leapfrogging" the competition, says Mr. Liebler, now VP-communications. "We had the formula."

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