Dieter Zetsche, president and chief executive officer of Chrysler Group, announced Sept. 25 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. 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. Zetsche also said that Chrysler Group will also seek to take advantage of the newly gained heri-tage that the merged DaimlerChrysler family now provides. Parts of the company – notably Mercedes-Benz – have a reputation for product innovation. In particular, he noted that Mercedes-Benz diesel technology had been adapted for Chrysler and Jeep in Europe with immediately positive results. 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. Jeep and Chrysler-Brand Strategies for International Markets The company’s ‘Jeep-First' strategy is to invest and grow the Jeep brand around the world. Zetsche noted that smaller 4x4 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, said Zetsche. 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." 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.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials