Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

GENEVA – With the U.S. launch already under its belt, Chrysler LLC now is focusing efforts on rolling out the new Dodge Journey small cross/utility vehicle in Europe this July.

Vice Chairman and President Jim Press says the European Journey, unveiled today at the Geneva auto show here, will play an important role in helping Chrysler double its international sales from 200,000 units in 2007 to 400,000 by 2012.

Press also announces Chrysler will expand it sales, marketing and service operations in Europe, with plans to shift “resources and responsibilities” for those functions from its Auburn Hills, MI, headquarters to Stuttgart.

Press says he does not know how many positions are involved in the transfer, but notes the move will put Chrysler closer to its European customers, as well as those in the Middle East and Africa.

The European Journey, which will be assembled at Chrysler’s Toluca, Mexico, plant, will come equipped with a Volkswagen AG 2.0L turbodiesel engine mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox supplied by Getrag GmbH & Cie KG.

Gasoline mills also will be offered on the Journey, but the diesel is expected to comprise the majority of sales.

Press isn’t certain how many engines Volkswagen will be able to supply for the Journey on an annual basis.

Pricing has not been announced, but Press says the vehicle will have “the best price and value story of any SUV in Western Europe.”

Meanwhile, Chrysler also unveils the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 for Europe. Making 295 hp from its turbocharged I-4 engine, Chrysler says the vehicle offers best-in-class fuel economy.

The Caliber is the auto maker’s best-selling model overseas, with more than 30,000 units deliveries last year, Press says.

Mike Manley, executive vice president-international sales, says 2007 was the best year for Chrysler thus far in Europe, up 15% over 2006.

Chrysler has seen 33 consecutive months of year-over-year increases in international sales, he adds.