September 26, 2002
Chrysler Group targets international markets
Paris, France – Dieter Zetsche, President and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group, announced today that a key element of the Company’s product offensive to increase volumes by one million units by the end of the decade is to also grow sales in markets outside of North America.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Paris Motor Show, Zetsche said Chrysler Group’s goal of product leadership globally “will be reflected in a focus on strong American brands that offer products and features well suited for international markets.” He added, “Chrysler Group brands will not try to be more European than the Europeans. We’ll stick to what we do well, like styling and segment innovation.”
Zetsche emphasized that international growth opportunities will play a significant role in the company’s overall strategy for the future, which is built around a vision to differentiate itself from the competition.
“Turnaround is no longer an accurate description for the Chrysler Group,” Zetsche said. “We don’t intend to turn the clock back to where we were before. Instead, we are transforming the Chrysler Group into something new, keeping the creativity we have always had (the Pizzazz) while adding the processes and exactness that will ensure our long-term sustainability (the Discipline).”
That strategy takes advantage of Chrysler Group’s established reputation for industry-leading design and its ability to consistently build segment- defining products, such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Zetsche said that Chrysler Group will take advantage of the expertise at Mercedes-Benz.
In particular, he noted that Mercedes-Benz diesel technology had been adapted for Chrysler and Jeep in Europe with immediately positive results. “Diesel sales in Western Europe for the first half of the year were 56% of our total sales, and were a 60% increase over our sales of diesels last year. During the second half of the year we expect this percentage to be even slightly higher.”
Within the next five years, Zetsche said, “we plan to double the number of models available with diesels and right hand drive.”
International markets will also play an important role in Chrysler Group’s re-focused attention on passenger cars. Of the 21 new and refreshed vehicles to be introduced over the next three years, two-thirds will be car-based.
The company’s “Jeep-First” strategy is to invest and grow the Jeep brand around the world. Zetsche noted that smaller 4×4 vehicles are becoming attractive to Europeans, and that the Jeep brand was already moving in the right direction. Jeep brand sales in Western Europe from January to August 2002 increased by 44 percent compared with the first eight months of 2001.
In addition, the Company last week signed a contract extension with Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria to continue producing Jeep Grand Cherokee for five more years, including the successor version.
Within the Chrysler Brand in Europe, the Chrysler Voyager remains the company’s hottest seller in Europe with a total of 25,000 units sold during the first eight months of the year.
Chrysler Crossfire will help to define — and refine — the image of the brand in the minds of European customers, while the Chrysler PT Cruiser range continues to expand.
The new PT Street Cruiser Series 2 makes its European debut at the Mondial de l’Automobile 2002, along with the Chrysler California Cruiser concept, which redefines the look and interior functionality of a “surf wagon.”
In addition, Zetsche said that the Chrysler Group would “bring a 2.4 Turbo to the Chrysler PT Cruiser in Europe next year.”
This will continue to broaden the PT Cruiser lineup by attracting a new set of performance-minded buyers. The Chrysler PT Cruiser has been available with the 2.2 liter Common Rail Diesel engine in Europe since earlier this year.