Looking to put a little spark into its presence in China, where it has captured little of that country's runaway demand for new cars and trucks, DaimlerChrysler says it will begin assembling the much-lauded Chrysler 300 sedan at its joint-venture plant in Beijing.
The plant, a joint venture with Beijing Automotive Industry Corp., has capacity for 80,000 vehicles a year and makes Jeeps, Mercedes sedans and Mitsubishi SUVs.
The plant will begin assembling 300s from kits early next year and is expected to begin full local production in January 2007. The initial annual volume will be 20,000 units.
Local production can't begin immediately because Chrysler has not found enough qualified local suppliers. A model must have at least 40 percent local content to avoid paying a higher tax rate.
Meanwhile, Chrysler must scramble to get thousands of kits to China from its capacity-challenged plant in Brampton, Ontario, before a higher import tax kicks in on Jan. 1. Effective then, the tariff on kits will rise from 15 to 25 percent, the same rate as built-up vehicles.
All three 300 models will be offered in China, but all will be badged as 300Cs. That name applies only to the Hemi version in the United States.