DaimlerChrysler is interested in making vehicles in China for export, said Chrysler group CEO Dieter Zetsche.
“It’s definitely one consideration of ours to potentially build vehicles in China, not exclusively for the Chinese market,” Zetsche said.
He said he was not hinting at an upcoming announcement but describing the thinking of D/C executives.
Zetsche’s comments reflect the rapid evolution of business models for automakers in China. Most industry leaders have been reluctant to speculate about exports from China.
Honda is preparing to export vehicles from China this year to other Asian countries and Europe.
Malcolm Bricklin’s Visionary Vehicles is promising to bring vehicles built by Chery Automobile to the US by 2007. Chery also is talking with European dealers about importing its cars to that market.
Zetsche indicated that D/C is positioned to use China as an export platform.
The former Chrysler Corp. was an early entrant in China with a joint venture that built Jeeps.
D/C has since lagged other automakers in China, Zetsche said, but is expanding again.
“We have probably the richest product portfolio going forward, the most new launches,” he said. “So we would have more opportunities to make decisions of that kind.”
It took Japanese companies 20 years to become “serious competitors,” Zetsche said, while Koreans did it in 10 years.
Perhaps Chinese factories will do it in five years, Zetsche told reporters at an educational event here sponsored by Chrysler’s Jeep division.