BEIJING -- The first Chrysler 300 and 300C sedans have arrived in China, and sources say DaimlerChrysler will begin assembling the vehicles here in 2005.
"In all the meetings we go to, they mention that the 300C will be built in China," a supplier source says.
DaimlerChrysler wouldn't reveal its assembly plans.
"The Chrysler 300C is a home run, and we see big potential for it internationally," says Trevor Hale, spokesman for DaimlerChrysler China.
"Regarding production in China, we are always exploring additional opportunities, but I cannot confirm any plan to build the Chrysler 300C in China at this time."
Li Bing, senior manager for imports at the Chrysler Division of DaimlerChrysler China, declined to disclose how many 300s have arrived.
"Many Chinese customers have shown their interest, so the demand is very high," he says.
The imported models will be launched with a media event this month. The 300s will be priced at close to 500,000 yuan, or $60,400 at the current exchange rate.
DaimlerChrysler showed the high-performance 300C at the Beijing auto show in June.
Industry sources say DaimlerChrysler will begin assembling 300C models from kits in China in the second half of 2005.
Other 300 models likely will be assembled in China as well, the sources say.
As the company loosens ties with Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Chrysler could become DaimlerChrysler's volume brand in China.
Beijing Jeep Corp. was counting on Mitsubishi models to help fill its new plant in China. The plant should be completed by 2006 with an initial capacity of 80,000 units.
Beijing Jeep Corp. is a joint venture of DaimlerChrysler and Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd.
But Mitsubishi's future with DaimlerChrysler became uncertain after DaimlerChrysler in April decided not to bail out the ailing Japanese automaker with cash.
This year, Beijing Jeep sold 25,100 units through October.
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