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DaimlerChrysler are expected to record a turnover of over $1 billion this year.
 Dubai, 9th Apr 2001

   With some Gulf markets showing an upturn, the Middle East operations of DaimlerChrysler are expected to record a turnover of over $1 billion this year.

Vehicle sales are forecast to hit 25,000 units, with Mercedes-Benz passenger cars contributing 12,500, Chrysler pulling its weight with 8,500 and commercial vehicles making up the rest, said Per Rasmussen, vice-president and director for Mercedes Benz passenger cars. Last year these markets, excluding Egypt, contributed 21,000.

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defense Minister, yesterday opened DaimlerChrysler's new Dh66-million, 26,600-square-metre Middle East headquarters and logistics centre in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The new facility will consolidate all shipments of spare parts to regional markets. At full capacity it can handle 70,000 parts. The warehouse and distribution will be handled by Caterpillar Logistics Service - the first of only four DaimlerChrysler regional projects to be operated by an external service provider.

However, vehicle shipment will continue to be done through existing arrangements with the distributors and will not be consolidated through the free zone facility. "We have very good arrangements with the distributors for vehicle imports from the U.S. and Europe. It would not have made good business sense to change that equation," said David Glorius, vice-president and Middle East director for the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep range at DaimlerChrysler.

"We estimate cost savings of between 20 and 25 per cent with this facility. The integration of our operations here have not meant job losses - in fact Chrysler had a 10 per cent increase in staff, and Daimler will do so by the half year."

But Egypt will continue to be managed through a separate entity, Glorius added. The company has assembly line operations there for the C-Class and the Cherokee. As for launching a similar initiative in Jordan, "We are looking at opportunities there and have had talks with King Abdulla about possible expansion of DaimlerChrysler's interests there."

Just recently Chrysler made an entry into Syria, tying up with the existing Mercedes-Benz distributor. On the regional markets, Rasmussen said, "While it's not great yet and nowhere near the 1995-1996 levels, there are improvements in some markets. The luxury segment, however, continues to do extremely well.

"We expect to take a decision on the Smart car franchises after June when we hold our first meetings on the issue. Our preference is to award the rights to the existing Mercedes-Benz distributors. "We are aware of the presence of stolen Mercedes-Benz cars being brought in from Europe. This is a serious issue and we are in talks with the distributors," added Rasmussen.

Source: Gulf News©

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09 April 2001 04:11:18 PM

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