Daimlerchrysler to Reintroduce Dodge in Japan

by : KatieJones

The DaimlerChrysler AG, the German parent company of the Chrysler Group, is currently in talks to sell its ailing American division. But Daimler is not losing track in the global auto competition. As a fact, it will introduce Dodge product lines in Japan for the first time since 2002.

DaimlerChrysler Japan Co., the automaker's local subsidiary, said last Wednesday that it will sell Dodge cars including the Avenger sedan and the Dodge Caliber hatchback. The Dodge brand has previously been sold by independent importers since the Chrysler shunned imports of Viper sports cars in 2002.

The Dodge Avenger sedan, a replacement for the aging Stratus, shares the GS platform with its sibling Chrysler Sebring. Aside from the distinct , the Avenger is equipped with the 2.4 L base engine in the SE trim level. Additional engines include the 2.7 L V6 in the SXT and a 3.5 L V6 in the R/T trim level.

The Caliber, a remarkable hatchback from the automaker, features Dodge's crosshair grille and large flared fenders. The Caliber is designed to rival the new Chevrolet HHR, the new Nissan Versa and Suzuki SX4 and the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe.

According to the automaker's reports, Japanese customers bought fewer than 1,000 Chrysler-brand vehicles in the first quarter of 2007. In the United States, there is an apparent decline in sales of Dodge Ram and SUVs like the Jeep Commander. This has prompted the decline in Chrysler's sales. Eventually, the American arm of Daimler has lost $1.5 billion in 2006.

During a press conference in Tokyo, Hans Tempel, the president of DaimlerChrysler Japan, has this to say: "No matter what the outcome of Chrysler is, we will continue making our business more profitable in Japan." Every potential buyer of Chrysler "should be interested in profitable business," Tempel said.

Other Dodge models included in Japan's lineup include the Nitro sport utility vehicle and the Dodge Charger sports sedan. Tempel added that the German automaker intends to offer a total of five new vehicles in Japan this year. Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler is considering introducing diesel-powered vehicles in Japan under the Jeep and Dodge brands, Tempel said.

In August, Daimler started selling a diesel engine-powered Mercedes E-class model. But the German automaker did give specific sales goal for Dodge vehicles in Japan. The pricing for the four interesting Dodge models is not revealed yet.

According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, sales of imported vehicles in Japan accounted for 4.3 percent of the world's third-largest vehicle market in the first quarter of this year as compared with a peak of 6.4 percent in 1996. In addition, sales of Chrysler-brand vehicles totaled 943 units in the three months ended March 31 and that amount is down by 8.1 percent from a year earlier.

It could be recalled that Daimler dropped the bombed that shocked the entire auto world on Valentines Day. At present, the automaker is negotiating the sale of the Auburn Hills-based Chrysler.