MAKUHARI, Chiba Pref. — Chrysler hopes to lift its profile in Japan by rolling out many new models in the near future, a top marketing official of the North American unit of DaimlerChrysler Corp. said.

“We will sell 6,000 Chrysler-brand cars in Japan this year, and we would like to sell at least 10,000 (annually) in the next four to five years,” Joachim Eberhardt, executive vice president of global sales, marketing and service, said during an interview on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show.

The automaker sold 5,727 cars in Japan in 2002; his projection for this year would mean a 4.8 percent growth rate.

He said the company hopes the introduction of three new models — the Crossfire sports coupe, the PT Cruiser and the 300C Sedan — will give the American automaker a jolt in Japan, where German brands, including Mercedes-Benz, dominate the imported car market.

While declining to give specific figures, Eberhardt said of 25 models Chrysler plans to roll out in the U.S. market in the next three years, a “very high number” will probably be brought to Japanese showrooms.

For Chrysler, which faces a growing presence by Japanese automakers back home, going on the offensive on their home turf is the best policy, according to Eberhardt, who called the Japanese market a benchmark for global competitiveness.

“If we can compete in Japan, we should be able to compete everywhere,” he said.

But for that to happen, he added, Chrysler has to go through the same process Mercedes did 40 years ago in making a successful transformation from a brand sold mainly in Germany to a global name.

And this does not happen overnight, Eberhardt said, since it is necessary to understand local customers and reflect their characteristics in products through a step-by-step and year-by-year approach.

Yet, he said his company sees a positive development in the Japanese market, where so-called multiple-purpose vehicles represent one of the fastest growing segments.

He said Chrysler, as the pioneer in the field, should have an edge over competitors.

As for the alliance with Mitsubishi Motors Corp., in which Chrysler has a 37.3 percent stake, Eberhardt said the company has been further integrating its operations with the Japanese maker in procurement and development.

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