Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Minivan set to drive up Chrysler sales

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the locally assembled Town & Country minivan set to roll off production lines in June, the newly formed Chrysler Group Taiwan Sales Ltd expects sales to soar, a company executive said yesterday.

"Town & Country has moved into more than 11 million households worldwide. We have localized its exterior and interior to cater to local tastes and are now banking on the minivan to boost sales this year," Matt Chang (張世和), the company's chief executive officer, told reporters at a media launch.

The combined vehicle sales under the Chrysler and Jeep brands totaled around 600 units last year in Taiwan.

The introduction of the Town & Country is expected to contribute 3,600 orders this year, boosting total sales to 4,500 units. Next year's sales will increase further to 6,200 units, he added.

Chrysler Group Taiwan Sales, which started operations this month, is a joint venture in which DaimlerChrysler Taiwan owns a 51 percent stake, with China Motor Corp (中華汽車), the nation's No. 2 automaker, holding the remaining 49 percent.

With paid-in capital of around NT$1 billion (US$31.2 million), the company was created to manage sales and distribution of Chrysler and Jeep vehicles for the local market.

In December 2004, the German-US automobile giant DaimlerChrysler granted China Motor permission to assemble the 3.3-liter Town & Country minivan in Taiwan.

Shipments of the minivan were reportedly to be around 5,000 to 6,000 units in the first year. The price tag will be less than NT$1 million. Imported models cost around NT$1.4 million each, Chang said.

"Our first mission now is to build up a strong brand image and beef up channel deployment," he said.

To achieve this goal, retail outlets will be expanded to 23 from 15 by June, and increased to 33 by the end of next year, Chang added.

The company will also bring in the Dodge Caliber, its first vehicle under the Dodge brand, in the fourth quarter this year.

The Caliber is a five-door sport utility vehicle with a 2-liter engine.

Another new model slated to be available soon is the 2.4-liter Jeep Compass sport utility vehicle, the company said.

"Depending on local demand, we are studying the possibility of producing more vehicles locally in the future," Chang added.

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