With a relatively new product lineup, including the PT Cruiser and the '01 Sebring family unveiled last week at the New York auto show, DaimlerChrysler Corp. is setting ambitious sales goals around the globe for its Chrysler brand.

While executives are forecasting only a slight increase in worldwide vehicle sales — 100,000 units to 3.3 million worldwide in 2000, the real growth is expected to happen over the next 10 years, especially in Europe. Chrysler-Jeep yearly deliveries in Europe will rise from 110,000-120,000 currently to 200,000 annually by 2003-2004, says Thomas R. Marinelli, vice president of the Chrysler/Jeep Div.

“And then from there we'll probably double that to 350,000-400,000 within five years of that, so probably 2006-'07,” Mr. Marinelli tells reporters in New York.

Chrysler will account for some 60% of those projected annual sales, with most of the growth gained from the PT Cruiser “because it's all plus business,” Mr. Marinelli explains.

DCC twice already has added PT Cruiser production capacity, first to the crossover's lead plant in Toluca, Mexico, and then earlier this year to its plant in Graz, Austria. Annual output now stands at 230,000 units, but Mr. Marinelli says it's possible more capacity could be added. “There are always creative ways of getting more production out, so we'll see.”

Besides the PT Cruiser, other factors will contribute to the anticipated growth of the Chrysler brand overseas. “With the merger, consideration has gone up. People now see the Chrysler-Jeep brands as even more viable because of the partnership. But I think more importantly, as you renew your product line and have a really top-notch lineup of Chrysler branded vehicles, consumer consideration for your products increases,” reasons Mr. Marinelli.

Among the fresh products are the three Chrysler Sebrings, which share mechanicals with the Dodge Stratus, also new for '01 (see Ward's Automotive Reports — Feb. 14, '00, p.3). Annual Sebring sales are projected at 100,000-plus units with the convertible and sedan accounting evenly for 80% of orders. “The majority of the opportunity will be North America. Outside of North America, the volumes will be roughly 15,000,” says Mr. Marinelli. There are no plans for a right-drive version.