|24878 - 'New Chrysler' eyes global sales||12/09/2007 - 09:34:56|
Having been recently flogged by Germany's Daimler, the iconic US car maker Chrysler is eyeing a rocky journey ahead.
Unveiling the Dodge Journey at the Frankfurt motor show, Chrysler's international sales chief Mike Manning has been given the task of mapping out the path going forward.
"They want something that works hard, plays hard," Mr Manning cries as the crossover rolls onto stage. "Something that is practical and sexy."
Everyone's dream, perhaps? But no.
This, former UK car dealer Mr Manning tells the BBC, is the vision of the famously walrus-moustached DaimlerChrysler chief "Dr Z" - Dieter Zetsche - whose claim to fame and rise to power resulted from his efforts to turn around the often unwanted Chrysler division.
Mr Zetsche, himself a bit of a hard-working player, confirms this when asked by the BBC during a media briefing.
"I'm pleased to see the strategy [that I set in motion seven years ago] be continued."
All brands in action
Currently, Chrysler's sales outside the Nafta region - Canada, the US and Mexico - account for no more than 7% or 8% of its total global sales.
"This single digit might become a double digit at some point," observes Mr Zetsche coolly, before adding: "But".
There is always a but in the car industry, and Mr Manning knows what his former boss is going to say: do not underestimate Chrysler's reliance on the US market.
And yet, beyond home, "we've now launched all three brands internationally", Mr Manning points out - the brands are Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, to the uninitiated - meaning most people living outside North America.
And these are the brands that should help Chrysler double its sales from some 200,000 per year over the next five years for Mr Manning's vision to come true.
Among those living inside the US of A there are plenty who giggle or shake their heads when they hear about Chrysler's proposition: bring Dodge to the world.
But scathing gossip is the name of the game when someone bites the dust - which is something Chrysler has done more often than most.
Listen instead to other voices.
There are plenty of those who talk of Chrysler's new, aggressive attitude. Of a new confidence. And, not least, of serious acquisitions in the automotive pool of human resources.
Chrysler - which was sold to Cerberus Capital Management in a $7.4bn deal last month - wasted little time before poaching Toyota's American president, Jim Press, last week.
For once, this was an American executive move that caused a cheer that could be heard across the Atlantic, and beyond.
Mr Press, declared Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe during a dinner on Monday, "was fully equipped with Toyota's DNA".
"He had a thorough understanding of our philosophy.
"We feel sorry he decided to leave," continued Mr Watanabe. "I don't deny the impact of him leaving Toyota."
Indeed, Chrysler is over the moon.
"When you bring 37 years of experience to a business, that experience is going to be beneficial," Mr Manning observes.
But he also knows that whereas Mr Press will do much to sort out Chrysler in America, the rest of the world is his own oyster.
And in this regard, he realises that he will need some good friends.
"Our approach to international growth will include partnerships and alliances," says Mr Manning.
"There are lots of markets outside to be gunning for."
And this, say industry watchers, is where Chrysler can go it alone in a manner that differs from the route it would have taken under Daimler.
Take Russia, a market that "Dr Z" describes as "very dynamic", though one it will probably serve through exports for a while yet.
Chrysler appears ready to take a very different approach, with Mr Manning eyeing local production, perhaps jointly with not-yet-defined partners.
"Today in Russia, we import all of our vehicles," he says.
"But we're growing ahead of the market.
"As you look out at the next two, three, four years, it's clear that if you're going to continue to grow and continue to be successful, you'll need to be localised in that region."
And Russia is just part of it.Chrysler aims to improve its "visibility" across the world - with the full backing of its former parent and remaining ally DaimlerChrysler.
Original Location: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6990393.stm
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