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March 6, 2003

SWITZERLAND: Viper V10 sportster could spearhead European Dodge launch

Chrysler is considering exporting its Dodge Viper V10 engine sportscar, to establish the Dodge brand in Europe, Jim Schroer, head of marketing and advertising with DaimlerChrysler AG's US arm, told Reuters. Schroer told Reuters in an interview at the Geneva motor show that Chrysler would decide by the end of the year whether to launch the Dodge brand and the Viper in Europe.

By bcusack

Chrysler is considering exporting its Dodge Viper V10 engine sportscar, to establish the Dodge brand in Europe, Jim Schroer, head of marketing and advertising with DaimlerChrysler AG’s US arm, told Reuters .

Schroer told Reuters in an interview at the Geneva motor show that Chrysler would decide by the end of the year whether to launch the Dodge brand and the Viper in Europe.

The Viper has previously been sold in Europe and the UK as a low-volume Chrysler product.

“There is a lot of energy behind bringing the Dodge Viper over, as a Dodge , not as a Chrysler ,” Schroer told Reuters . Chrysler also is considering the Dodge M80 compact pickup, a concept shown at the Detroit auto show last year, as one of several Dodge vehicles that could be part of a broad line-up of vehicles for Europe, he added.

“We’re going to make that decision this year,” Schroer said, according to Reuters . “What we’re not going to do is see if we can sell a few, go ahead and sell them. That’s kind of been the strategy of the past,” he said. “We need a long-term sustainable profitable business case.” The Dodge brand could arrive in Europe within two to three years, he said.

Reuters said the Chrysler brand, a very small player in the European market, has increased its sales over the past few years with the launch of the PT Cruiser and the Jeep Cherokee, which is sold as the Liberty in the United States. The addition of more diesel engines in Europe also has boosted sales, Schroer said.

Later this year, Chrysler will add the German-made Crossfire, a two-seat sports car, to its line-up in the United States and Europe, Reuters noted.

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