TOKYO -- DaimlerChrysler's U.S. arm Chrysler will seek immediate talks with the United Auto Workers union on cost savings, Chief Executive-designate Dieter Zetsche said on Tuesday.
Chrysler will try to achieve similar savings to those General Motors has agreed on retirees' health-care costs, he told an industry conference ahead of the Tokyo auto show.
Chrysler had a clear understanding with the UAW that any savings GM achieved would be applicable to Chrysler as well, said Zetsche, who becomes DaimlerChrysler chief executive at the end of the year.
"We definitely will engage in discussions right away" to this end, he said, although he added that Chrysler might not apply exactly the same model as GM to save costs in this manner.
GM on Monday, Oct. 17, announced a deal with the UAW to slash its multibillion-dollar health-care costs, sending its shares up as much as 13 percent even as it posted a fourth consecutive quarterly loss. DaimlerChrysler stock rose as well.
The world's biggest automaker said the pact would reduce its employee health-care expenses by $3 billion annually before taxes.
The tentative UAW agreement, which must be ratified by GM's unionized workers, is projected to reduce GM's retiree health-care liabilities by about $15 billion and result in a 25-percent cut in the company's hourly health-care liability.
Chrysler has fewer retirees per active worker than does GM, but analysts estimate that Chrysler could still chop $3.6 billion to $4.8 billion) from its health-care liabilities by striking a deal along the same lines.