Chinese carmaker Chery Automobile and the US Chrysler Group committed on Wednesday to a joint exploration of the North American and European markets.
The cooperation deal will make for a strong combination of Chery's background developing and producing low-cost small-and medium-sized cars and Chrysler's branding and marketing expertise, according to a joint statement from the two companies.
Chrysler chairman Tom LaSorda seemed enthused about the project, saying that being "young and promising, Chery is the best partner Chrysler could have found anywhere."
Chrysler will handpick several Chery models and release them in North America and Europe under Chrysler Group brands after some necessary modifications, said the joint statement.
Industry insiders say that the first vehicle exported -- due to be based on the Chery A1 compact model that premiered at the Shanghai auto show in April -- will be packaged under the Dodge brand. It could be released as early as the end of the year, with Mexico and Southern Europe likely to be first markets tapped.
"Cooperating with Chery will improve Chrysler's competitive edge in the small-and medium-sized segment," said LaSorda, adding that the partnership will permit a speedier and cheaper manufacturing process for new Chrysler products.
"Chrysler can teach Chery a lot and the cooperation will strengthen Chery's international competitiveness," said Chery chairman and CEO, Yin Tongyao.
Chery, one of China's most successful brands, became the country's seventh largest automaker and fourth largest sedan producer in 2006, having sold 305,200 vehicles. It is looking to boost its export market this year, doubling last year's 50,000 exported vehicles.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2007)