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Chrysler targets growth overseas

January 05, 2007|From Reuters

DETROIT — DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group should have a restructuring plan ready by February as it aims to recover from a loss expected to be near $1.3 billion for 2006, the automaker said Thursday.

Chrysler also said it had set a target of doubling its sales outside North America over the next five years to about 400,000 units, as it targets growth overseas and readies a turnaround plan for North America, where sales have fallen.

"That's the overall plan that we will take to the marketplace. It will probably be by the end of the second month of the year," Chrysler Group Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said.

"It will outline what we need to do on a wide scope of business, and I'm not providing any details until that day," he added.

LaSorda also said Chrysler would remain open to product-focused alliances like the one it has clinched with China's Chery Automobile Co. to produce a new small car for export to Europe and the United States.

"The opportunities outside the U.S. are becoming more and more important," LaSorda said.

Chrysler announced a partnership with Taiwan's China Motor Corp. to export cargo vans to Mexico. China Motor, which now makes a Chrysler-branded minivan for sale in Taiwan, would produce a Dodge-branded cargo van at its assembly plant in Yangmei, Taiwan, for the Mexican market, Chrysler said.

Chrysler said it would also license China Motor and Fujian Motor Group of Fuzhou, China, to make a minivan for the Chinese market.

"There are ways to capture growth in different ways rather than putting a lot of your own capital out there," LaSorda said. "So we'll look at those kinds of opportunities."

Chrysler's U.S. sales slipped 7% in 2006, although sales outside the United States were up almost 7%. On a global basis, vehicle sales fell 4.5%.

In the U.S. market, DaimlerChrysler, which includes the parent company's Mercedes brand, slipped to become the No. 4 player, behind Toyota Motor Corp., which saw its own sales rise 13%.

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