Chrysler to expand Dodge offerings in Europe |

Chrysler to expand Dodge offerings in Europe

FRANKFURT, Germany – DaimlerChrysler AG will open more Chrysler dealerships in Europe, double the number of models by the American unit in Europe and open a new office in Germany as it moves to bolster its presence in the European auto market.The group, which under incoming DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche showed a remarkable turnaround in recent years, said Monday that the new push is part of a plan to expand its presence in western Europe, along with Poland and the Czech Republic.”The new product pipeline is full and Western Europe is our key international volume driver. Therefore, to continue our growth in the region, it is essential to have the best structure in place in order to fully capitalize on the opportunities presented by our product offensive,” said Thomas Hausch, Chrysler’s executive director of international sales and marketing. “We are now placing our focus on execution and maintaining close contact with our markets in the region.”By expanding its European network of dealers to include Dodge models, DaimlerChrysler said it would help strengthen its overall presence by making that brand better known in western Europe.It also plans to increase the number of its Chrysler-branded cars that use diesel fuel, a nod to Europeans’ use of the fuel, as well as increase the number of right-hand drive cars – a clear sign that it wants more customers in the United Kingdom.Between 2003 and 2007, the Chrysler Group expects to more than double the number of models it offers in markets outside of North America to almost 20. In the same time period, the company hopes to expand its international offerings by more than doubling the number of diesel and right-hand-drive models, too.For 2005, the company expects to sell about 90,000 cars in western Europe, about half of the total sales outside the U.S. In 2006, the company plans to launch its Dodge Caliber and Nitro SUV. Currently, it only sells the Dodge Viper.The new office, located in Stuttgart where DaimlerChrysler is based, will begin operating in January and will be headed by Jacques Bousquet, who is currently the managing director of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge at DaimlerChrysler France.It will result in the creation of 22 new jobs in Stuttgart and two in Auburn Hills. It will take over most of the current sales, service and support from its current office in Brussels, Belgium. That office will be closed and 17 positions will be eliminated.DaimlerChrysler’s U.S. shares fell 22 cents to $50.98 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.—On the Net:

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