Chrysler has created a separate unit inside the company to handle sales and marketing in California treating it almost as a separate country to the rest of the US, according to sales chief Reid Bigland.

The new department has the same status internally as those responsible for Chrysler's sales in Canada and Mexico.

Bigland said the California office already is developing special advertising for the state and the carmaker is even planning some special limited-edition vehicles specifically for the market.

Bigland said:"We didn't have the appropriate focus on California. It's a market that we've generally struggled in. It's a massive market, and it's also very influential. You really need to do well in California to have credibility with your products in the rest of the country."

A resurgent Chrysler is already making headway in the state. Its sales there increased 55%, from 32,768 registrations in 2010 to 50,759 last year, the biggest sales gains of any full-line carmaker.

California is a stronghold for Japanese brands and hybrid cars. Bigland told the Detroit News: “Honda and Toyota have been well-ingrained in California for some time. I don't think they're going to roll over and make way for us.”

But Chyrsler will have new, sporty, fuel-efficient cars like the new Dodge Dart while the addition of Fiat to Chrysler's line-up has helped because it gives the company an even more economical small car.