WASHINGTON -- Plans by DaimlerChrysler AG to spend $40 billion in North America over the next five years will mainly focus on Chrysler group products, company officials said on Tuesday.
The overall figure was disclosed by Chairman Juergen Schrempp on Monday during a conference in Washington to boost awareness of the global automaker's impact on the United States. The United States is the company's single-largest market.
Based in Germany, DaimlerChrysler has 37 factories in 12 U.S. states where it employs roughly 100,000 people and pays suppliers roughly $36 billion. Its North American operations also include Mexico and Canada.
Company officials said DaimlerChrsyler plans to spend about two-thirds of the $40 billion on North American manufacturing improvements and product development for Chrysler group products, which involve all makes of passenger cars and light trucks.
The company also plans to retool factories and make other investments for its operations that produce Mercedes-Benz vehicles and Freightliner trucks.
Separately on Tuesday, Chrysler group CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters that the company planned to introduce its first hybrid veichle in late 2007 or 2008 -- a Dodge Durango SUV.
The hybrid development is a planned joint venture with General Motors and Mercedes-Benz. GM will first use the system in late 2007 in its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-sized SUVs.
DaimlerChrysler and GM are striving to catch up with Japanese rivals on the fuel-saving hybrid systems that reduce emissions. Hybrids burn less fuel by adding one or more electric motors to a conventional gasoline or diesel engine.
"We believe both (hybrid and diesel) technologies will grow and flourish in this country," Zetsche said.