Chrysler Group will begin selling two Dodge vehicles in China as the company tries to increase its presence in the world’s fastest-growing automotive market.
The company planned to announce Friday at the Shanghai Auto Show that the Caravan minivan would go on sale in China toward the end of this year, and the Caliber small sport utility vehicle would go on sale in the first quarter of 2008.
The Caravan will be built in China at Southeast Motor, a Chinese auto manufacturer in Fuzhou, Chrysler said in a statement. Calibers sold in China will be imported from Belvidere, Ill.
When the vehicles go on sale, it will be the first time that Dodges have been sold in China since the World War II era, the company said.
Chrysler sold about 207,000 vehicles outside of the United States last year but only about 10,000 in China.
Chrysler Group, the U.S. wing of DaimlerChrysler AG, already sells some Jeep and Chrysler models in China.
Last year, China surged past Japan to become the world’s No. 2 vehicle market after the United States. Vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 25 percent to 7.2 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says. Passenger car sales were up 37 percent at 3.8 million.
That was up from 3.3 million vehicles sold in 2002 and 1.6 million in 1997. U.S. car and truck sales fell slightly last year to 16.5 million units.