FRANKFURT, Germany - DaimlerChrysler AG is aiming to cut its distribution costs in many small ways.
In Europe and many other countries, costs will be reduced by combining logistics, warehousing, auto preparation and other functions.
In the United States, executives of Daimler-Benz AG and Chrysler Corp. are evaluating whether a common wholesale company would make sense, said Joachim Schmidt, 49, head of Mercedes-Benz global distribution and marketing.
Showrooms will be kept separate everywhere. In Germany, particularly, Mercedes-Benz dealers will be encouraged to open a Chrysler-Jeep store.
In some new markets, dealerships may sell vehicles from both companies.
'I don't see dramatic changes coming up,' said Schmidt. There will be synergies between Daimler and Chrysler, 'but these synergies will only affect the wholesale companies and not the dealerships.'
Each company has sales subsidiaries in 12 major countries. Chrysler has subsidiaries in four countries where Daimler does not, and Daimler has 11 countries where Chrysler uses independent distributors.
'The policy for DaimlerChrysler will be the strict separation of the two brands wherever a customer gets in contact with them,' said Schmidt.
'The synergies will be used in the background.'
There will be no mixture of brands in existing dealerships, but Mercedes dealers in Europe will be encouraged to open a further franchise for Chrysler cars, said Schmidt. The system would then be similar to the BMW-Rover distribution network, which has a common ownership and back office but a separate public appearance.
In countries where both partners are not strong, dealers could offer both brands but in separate showrooms, said Schmidt.
Cost savings will come from the common handling and stocking of spare parts and the preparation of cars before they are brought to the dealerships. The amount of savings cannot yet be estimated.
U.S. DEALER SETUP
Chrysler will benefit mostly in Western Europe and in Japan, where Daimler-Benz has a very strong network, said Schmidt.
In North America, Schmidt sees no reason to bring the dealers of both sides together. 'The system there works sufficiently and we also do not need more dealers in the U.S.,' said Schmidt. 'We want to offer class and not mass.'
Mercedes-Benz dealers in Europe say they are relaxed. 'Everything is very fresh and the development can become very interesting,' said Claus Altemoeller, executive at the company-owned Mercedes-Benz dealership in Frankfurt.
'Chrysler has a good choice of models, although they would not fit in our showrooms. If dealers would open a separate franchise for Chrysler cars, they could attract other customers, especially since the Chrysler image in Germany will increase now.'