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Chrysler Group just dropped a release letting us know they're planning on expanding "dealer operations in key markets outside North America." They've brought in 70 potential investors from places like Russia and Japan for a forum to get a sneak peek at "sales outlet ownership opportunities." Well — looks like someone hasn't yet learned about the problems of dealerships not owned by the automaker. Maybe someone should have read the Detroit Free Press this week. Or heck, maybe even learned from past experiences. Full release after the jump.

Chrysler Group Looks to Expand International Sales and Dealer Network

* Chrysler Group plans to expand its dealer operations in key markets outside North America
* 70 potential investors attend forum for sneak peek at Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge sales outlet ownership opportunities
* Sales performance outside North America continues at record levels

Auburn Hills, Mich., Jun 20, 2007 - As Chrysler Group continues to increase sales and expand operations in markets outside North America, the company has identified a need for additional sales outlets in key established and growth markets. This week, approximately 70 international investors and dealers are visiting the company's headquarters in Auburn Hills for a sneak peek at the potential for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brand franchises in their respective markets.

"While we will continue to aggressively defend our position in NAFTA, it is important that we expand in other markets so that we are not as dependent on the ups and downs of a single region," said Tom LaSorda, President and CEO - Chrysler Group. "With a more global focus we will be better able to take advantage of emerging opportunities."

Dealer Investment Forum
The Chrysler Group has invited the potential partners from 19 countries all over the world, including Russia, Japan and the Middle East. During three days with senior Chrysler Group executives, the investors will learn more about the different avenues the company is pursuing to become a more global operation as it implements the Recovery and Transformation Plan, a roadmap for returning to financial health. They will also gain insight into the Chrysler Group's growth plans outside North America and experience first-hand the unique products and powertrains that would be available through their franchise if they choose to invest. This week's forum follows a conference held in China where 140 dealers attended.

"Due to the expansion of our global portfolio, we see an opportunity not only to strengthen the relationship with our current dealers, but also to look for new business partners that can help us to take our international business to the next level," said Michael Manley, Executive Vice President - International Sales, Marketing and Business Development.

Outside North America, Chrysler Group has roughly 1,400 sales outlets. In established markets, like Western Europe, the company plans to add roughly 100 new sales outlets over the next two years. Additional growth in the dealer network will increase the company's presence in growing markets, such as Russia and China, where the existing dealer network is doing well, but the goals of additional sales growth will require adding more locations.

The addition of these new outlets will increase customer satisfaction, as well as contribute to increased sales. Chrysler Group remains committed to ensuring a positive customer experience with the product itself, and with the dealership for both sales and service experiences. Having the necessary number of dealerships exposes more customers to the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands and also means that customers are able to visit a facility in or near their community after purchasing the vehicle for any necessary maintenance.

Performance Outside North America
In 2006, Chrysler Group expanded the availability of the Dodge brand in key markets all over the world with the launch of the Dodge Caliber, the brand's first volume vehicle outside North America. The next two Dodge vehicles, making their way into global markets this summer, are the Dodge Nitro and Avenger. Demand for the Dodge brand has been strong so far this year as Dodge Caliber sales soared to 13,265 units year-to-date, making it the top-selling Chrysler Group vehicle outside North America. By 2009, Dodge could account for roughly 30 percent of the Company's international sales.

"Many dealers outside North America have been very successful with the sales of all three Chrysler Group brands in their local markets," said Thomas Hausch, Vice President of International Sales. "In Western Europe alone, we increased our return on sales by more than 20 percent, from 1.7 in 2005 to 2.1 in 2006. This is a clear indication that the new vehicles we are introducing are well-received by our customers and that we deliver to our dealers one of the best return on sales within the industry."

Sales growth for Chrysler Group as a whole outside North America has reached an unprecedented two full years of monthly sales gains, and year-to-date growth of 16 percent (91,412 units) over the same period of time in 2006. Much of this growth is attributed to the increase in the number of models that are being introduced in markets all over the world with options that meet the needs of global customers. Chrysler Group management has indicated that the plan is to double last year's sales outside North America and reach approximately 400,000 units in the next five years.

To support this growth plan, between 2003 and 2007, The Chrysler Group will approximately double the number of products available outside North America from nine to 20 vehicles. Within the number of models available, the company will triple the number of vehicles in right-hand-drive, from six to 18; and, quadruple the number of vehicles with an option for a diesel powertrain, from four to 16.

Chrysler Group sells and services vehicles in more than 125 countries around the world. Sales outside North America currently account for approximately 8 percent of the company's total global sales. Vehicles available outside of North America come from all three Chrysler Group brands, with limited availability on some trucks and SUV models.

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