DaimlerChrysler has said that it has received approval from the Chinese government to start offering auto financing, and would launch services later this year.

A new operation to be called DaimlerChrysler Auto Finance (China) Ltd. will offer financing to dealers and customers, insurance for passenger cars and financial services for commercial vehicles.

It will be headquartered in Beijing and aims to sign 3,000 financing contracts in 2006, the company said.

Many auto purchases in China are still done in cash but auto financing is growing, despite soaring defaults for some domestic lenders.

“We are now working on the remaining tasks that are necessary to start our business in the fourth quarter of this year,” Juergen Walker, chairman of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services’ board of management, was quoted as saying.

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DaimlerChrysler owns 50 percent in a Chinese joint venture that plans to roll out its first Mercedes-Benz E-class sedans in November, followed by the C-class.

GERMANY: Opel to produce new cross-country vehicle

Financial Times Deutschland reports that GM’s Opel unit is planning to produce a cross-country vehicle again from summer 2006 onwards.

The company is hoping to build on the success of its Frontera model, which was dropped from its range a year and a half ago.

At the IAA, Opel presented designs for a new model, the Antara GTC.