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Q&A: New Chrysler Germany boss will guide brand's product offensive

Hullerum says diesel engines will be part of every new model range

Berlin. Chrysler is making a profit again in North America. In Germany, the Chrysler and Jeep brands increased sales during the first half in a down market. Automobilwoche spoke with Chrysler Germany Managing Director Bernd Hullerum about the brand's continued product offensive in Europe's No. 1 market.

In July your sales dropped by 30 percent compared to the same period last year. Will this have an impact on your annual sales target?

No. It is inappropriate to project the figures of one month onto the whole year. Registration figures were up by 41 percent in July 2003 compared with the average figures of that year because of the success of the Chrysler Crossfire and the restyled Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Sebring and Sebring convertible as well as the Chrysler PT Cruiser. We are positive that August registrations will be higher than during the same period last year and we are satisfied with the number of orders received for September. Last year we sold more than 20,000 vehicles. If this year we manage to sell more than that I will be happy. We will introduce more new products this year than ever before. The product offensive will continue next year. And in 2006 we will introduce the Dodge brand in Germany. During the first half we had a sales plus of 2.3 percent, which means we developed significantly better than the general market. I am very satisfied with that of course.

How is your relationship with the dealer network?

We have a very close and constructive relationship with the dealer association. Our "dealers' roundtables", where we regularly meet with our partners, are also very valuable. We are working on a lot of details that will lead to long-term improvement.

Chrysler models should become more European, right?

Previously, vehicles were developed for the US and later adapted to European requirements. European needs are now being considered from the start of the product development. Chrysler introduced a new design process for that called the Chrysler Development System (CDS). Diesel engines for example are being included in every new model range. Chassis, suspension and vehicle safety also meet European standards. The Chrysler 300C is an example of a vehicle developed with CDS. This is evident with the mofdel's fit and finish and its excellent fuel consumption figures.

Talking about quality, there are still customer complaints.

Research in the US by J.D. Power and the Harbour Report has shown that we are continuously improving and we offer value for the money. A Chrysler 300C starts at 38,600. Prices of German competitors within this segment are generally between 20 percent to 25 percent more expensive.

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