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Thu, Jul 05, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Chrysler to launch Chinese-made car in US next year

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , BEIJING

Chrysler Group will introduce a Chinese-made small car in the US next year that retails for about half the price of its cheapest model, as it seeks to win back market share from Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co.

The carmaker will begin selling Chery Automobile Co's A1 hatchback in the first quarter of next year, Chery president Yin Tongyao (尹同耀) said in Beijing yesterday. The 1.3-liter A1 is priced from 53,800 yuan (US$7,100) in China. Chrysler's least expensive US model is the US$13,850 Dodge Caliber, according to Edmunds.com.

Yin didn't say how much the A1 would cost in the US.

Chrysler, set to be the first US automaker to import cars from China, also plans to close a plant at home after reporting a loss last year and slipping to fourth place in US sales. Working with Chery will allow the company to add models able to compete with Toyota's Yaris with less investment.

"This is the start of a very long relationship between Chrysler and Chery," Chrysler Group president and chief executive Tom LaSorda said in a statement yesterday.

"Chery's participation in this agreement and their focus on small and sub-compact cars will have a nearly immediate effect on Chrysler Group's offerings in the small-vehicle segments," LaSorda said.

"This strategic partnership is part of a new business model that is allowing us to introduce all-new products more quickly, with less capital spending," he said.

Chrysler plans to sell current and future Chery models worldwide. Chery may eventually build as many as 100,000 vehicles a year for Chrysler, Yin said at a signing ceremony yesterday, without providing a timeframe.

The capacity can also be expanded in future, he added.

The US automaker aims to begin selling Chery-made vehicles under its Dodge brand in Latin America and Eastern Europe by the end of the year, LaSorda said.

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