SHANGHAI — Chrysler LLC is staying in China, says a spokeswoman for the company, although local production has slowed to a trickle and its top executive here left in December.
"Our licensing agreements remain in force, and we expect production to resume once inventories have been brought down to reasonable levels," says spokeswoman Daphne Zheng.
But she acknowledges that China is a low priority for Chrysler, as the automaker struggles to survive with loans from the U.S. government.
In December, Phil Murtaugh, Chrysler's top executive in China, resigned.
Responsibility for business development went back to Detroit, while responsibility for sales and marketing remained in Shanghai.
In January, only 17 Chrysler vehicles, all Grand Voyager or Caravan minivans, were produced in China, at Southeast Motor Co.
Production of Chrysler sedans, the 300C and Sebring, stopped in December at the other company licensed to make Chryslers in China, Beijing Benz-DaimlerChrysler Automotive Co. in Beijing.
Last year in China, Chrysler sold 11,200 vehicles made there.
Chrysler has about 130 dealerships in China. The automaker imports six vehicles, mostly Jeeps. Zheng says two will be added to this lineup this year.
Zheng says a July 2008 agreement with Great Wall Motor Co. to share components and distribution is on hold.
"Both Chrysler and Great Wall are better off focusing on their immediate priorities," she says. "For Chrysler, business development in China is not included in those immediate priorities."