DaimlerChrysler has put corporate development head Ruediger Grube in charge of the group’s businesses in China, it said on Thursday.

According to Reuters, it said bundling all its Chinese businesses under one executive would ensure a unified corporate presence and profitable growth in the fast-growing market.

Grube will remain head of corporate development. Roman Fischer, the president of DaimlerChrysler China Ltd, will report to Grube, the company said in a statement cited by the news agency.

Reuters said the group sold more than 22,000 cars in China in the first half of 2004, including 5,500 Mercedes-Benz premium models. Mercedes aims to boost annual sales in China to up to 50,000 in the medium term.

The Beijing Jeep Corp joint venture intends to double sales this year to 40,000 units. “Together with its partners in China, DaimlerChrysler expects to increase sales by about 75% this year to more than 59,000 vehicles,” it said, according to the report.

Reuters noted that Daimler won preliminary approval in May to build Mercedes cars with partner Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co at a new plant in Beijing with a capacity of 25,000 cars. It has also set up a venture with Beiqi Foton to make heavy and medium trucks, engines and parts for the domestic market, and plans to make 40,000 vans a year in a venture with Fujian Motor Industry Group and China Motor Corp.

Expansion of the group’s financial services business will also move forward once regulatory approval comes through, the news agency added.

In all, DaimlerChrysler will invest €1 billion ($US1.23 billion) over the medium term to build vehicles in China, the report said.