Chrysler Corp. said its sole car-making venture in China lost money for the first time in the first half of the year, as slower economic growth battered sales.
Shanghai's Business News reported that Chrysler's Beijing Jeep joint venture sold 11,342 Cherokee sport-utility vehicles in the first six months of 1998, a decline of 53 percent from the year-earlier period. Output slumped 62 percent to 12,336.
The decline stems from a sluggish economy and increased competition, said Zhang Cailin, public relations manager at Beijing Jeep, who said the Business News numbers were "about right." Officials had predicted 1998 would be difficult for the 14-year-old venture because of a slower economy and a growing preference for family sedans as roads improve.
"Certainly, we have already lost money during the first half," Zhang said, declining to say how much. Cherokees account for about a third of Beijing Jeep's production.
The $300-million joint venture is 42 percent-owned by Chrysler, with Beijing Automotive Industry Corp. holding the rest. It's one of Chrysler's biggest operations in Asia.