Wed, Aug 08, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Chrysler reaffirms its commitment to local market

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

US automaker Chrysler reaffirmed its commitment to Taiwan in the wake of changes after its sale to a private equity company.

DaimlerChrysler AG completed last Friday the transfer of an 80.1 percent stake of Chrysler to New York-based buyout firm Cerberus, ending a nine-year partnership and restoring Chrysler as a standalone US automaker.

Changes have also taken place in Taiwan following the sale. All shares previously owned by DaimlerChrysler Taiwan Ltd in Chrysler Group Taiwan Sales Ltd were transferred to Chrysler Group, a statement released yesterday read.

Chrysler Taiwan started operations in January last year as a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler Taiwan holding a 51 percent stake and China Motor Corp (中華汽車), the nation's No. 2 automaker, taking up 49 percent.

The 51 percent stake was formally transferred last Friday to Chrysler Group, which will manage its brands, including Chrysler, Jeep and Town & Country, in Taiwan.

"Sales of American cars are losing momentum in Taiwan due to a stronger US dollar and intense competition from Japanese brands that offer more affordable prices," a company official said.

But Chrysler Group said it was not giving up on Taiwan.

Combined sales of Chrysler and Jeep hit about 700 units a year here, while Town & Country minivans, which started local assembly last year, saw sales of about 30 units a month.

"Taiwan will continue to be an important market of Chrysler Group," William Russo, chairman of Chrysler Taiwan, said in a statement.

Chrysler Taiwan will continue its sales and operations and uphold service commitments to Chrysler car owners, he said.

"Moreover, with the direct relationship and strong backing of Chrysler Group, we will offer upgraded products and services to Taiwan," he said.

Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler Taiwan -- formed in February 2002 after Germany's Daimler merged with the US' Chrysler in 1998 -- will be renamed Daimler Taiwan in the near term to oversee its Benz, Smart and Maybach sales here, a company official said.

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