Chrysler Group signs an agreement with Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG to use the supplier’s Graz, Austria, facility to support production of the Chrysler 300C for markets outside of North America.

Magna Steyr will begin building rear- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Chrysler 300C Touring (wagon) and sedan in second-quarter 2005, while the high-performance SRT-8 and a diesel-powered model will join the production range in late 2005.

’05 Chrysler 300C Touring

A Chrysler source tells Ward’s Magna could produce as many as 8,000 of the vehicles annually depending on demand. Exact terms of the contract were not disclosed, although a Magna source says Chrysler has committed to building the 300Cs in Graz for the “lifecycle of the vehicle program.”

A Chrysler spokeswoman says the pact with Magna Steyr will not delay production of the 300C Touring, which will be sold only in markets outside of North America. Chrysler’s Brampton, Ont., Canada, plant – the home of Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum production – already has begun production of the 300C Touring model.

The pact will help the plant gear up for production of the Dodge Charger, which is slated to begin early next year. Workers at the Brampton plant recently ratified an agreement to add a third shift at the Canadian plant to support Charger output, as well as meet continued strong demand for the 300 and Magnum. (See related story: Chrysler-CAW Reach Pact for Brampton Third Shift)

Chrysler says it has received strong interest for the 300 from European customers and it believes sales could surpass initial estimates.

“For the next year, demand from the markets (outside of North America) is far beyond our original projection,” Chrysler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche says in a prepared statement. “The production launch next year at Magna Steyr will enable us to have 300Cs on the ground quickly to meet growing market demand.”

Chrysler says it now plans to sell more than 8,000 units of the 300C in more than 100 countries outside of North America.

A Magna spokesman tells Ward’s the cars will share the final assembly line area with two other Chrysler Group vehicles: the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Chrysler Voyager minivan. Magna will continue building the Voyager through 2006, while Grand Cherokee production will remain in place until at least 2009. (See related story: Magna Says Grand Cherokee to Stay in Graz)