Monday, January 14, 2008

Chrysler Says Market Share to Fall Amid Fleet Cuts (Update1)

By Greg Miles and Hugo Miller

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler LLC, the third-largest U.S. automaker, expects its domestic market share to decline as it pares sales of fleet vehicles and focuses on selling cars and trucks to consumers.

``We've taken a lot of fleet out,'' Chrysler President Jim Press said today in an interview at the Detroit auto show. ``Our retail market share will increase next year, the fleet market share will decline, the total will decline,'' he said.

Cutting discounted sales to business customers such as rental-car companies would help Chrysler boost profit margins and raise the resale value of vehicles bought by consumers. Chrysler plans to trim fleet purchases to about 20 percent of total sales, from about 30 percent in 2007.

Chrysler had 12.9 percent of U.S. auto sales in 2007, according to Autodata Corp., based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler was purchased last year by Cerberus Capital Management LP from the former DaimlerChrysler AG.

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