Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

GENEVA – Chrysler International in Europe is carrying on, while its parent company awaits word at the end of March as to whether the U.S. government believes the auto maker can repay the taxpayer loans that have carried the company into 2009.

“We’re not waiting around to see what will happen,” says Chrysler spokesman Guillaume Drelon. “In Europe, we are following our normal activities. Our aim is to go through the (global economic) crisis in the best position for our distribution network.”

In France, sales of Chrysler and Jeep brands, combined, are trailing the market. But some models, such as the Jeep Wrangler, are selling better than their segment rivals.

In other European markets, many Mercedes-Benz dealers also sell Chrysler products. Those dealers are better financed and not in the same difficulty as others, Drelon says.

Although Daimler AG has written down its investment in Chrysler LLC to zero, there still is much back-office synergy in Europe that is left over from the days before Chrysler was sold. In France, Chrysler employees continue to work in the same building as the Mercedes-Benz staff.

Chrysler’s stand at the auto show here is big enough for twice as many cars, which leaves something of an empty feeling. But there still is excitement.

The auto maker is showing its electric-range concept cars unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The Chrysler 200C EV Concept is located a prime position and is attracting interest.

Lou Rhodes, Chrysler vice president-Advance Vehicle Engineering, says in a statement the EVs will “achieve zero tailpipe emissions and a 150- to 200-mile (241- to 322-km) driving range.”

Most European electric-vehicle developments are projecting a battery range of 93 miles (150 km).