Beijing Jeep Corp. had its first profitable year in five years in 2003, and expects profit to grow tenfold this year, Beijing Jeep chairman An Qingheng told the China Daily on Saturday.
The joint venture between DaimlerChrysler AG and Beijing Automobile Industry Holdings Co. reported 20 million yuan, or $2.4 million at current exchange rates, in pre-tax profits in 2003 and expects a profit of $24 million this year, An said.
He made that optimistic prediction at the launch of Beijing Jeepís newest model, the Mitsubishi Outlander. The China-built Outlander is the same version that has just been launched worldwide, but its body has been reinforced to deal with Chinaís rougher road conditions, says Beijing Jeep spokesman George Tao.
The Outlander, an SUV based on a car platform, comes in two versions, a 2.4-liter, all-wheel drive with automatic/manual transmission; and a 2.4-liter two-wheel drive manual transmission. The all-wheel-drive model is on sale in China for $25,600. The two-wheel-drive modelís price will be announced before it is launched in February.
Beijing Jeep will produce 25,000 Outlanders this year, says Paul Alcala, CEO of Beijing Jeep.
Established in 1984, Beijing Jeep was Chinaís first Sino-foreign automotive manufacturer. Beijing Automobile Industry Holdings Co. owns 57.6 percent of the venture; DaimlerChrysler AG owns 31.85 percent and DaimlerChrysler (China) Ltd. 10.55 percent.
In a market with few other SUV producers, Beijing Jeep initially did well. But it failed to update its models and began to lose money in 1998.
Fortunately for Beijing Jeep, DaimlerChrysler also owns 37.3 percent of Mitsubishi Motors, and the addition of the Mitsubishi-brand model to Beijing Jeepís lineup is one factor behind the optimistic earnings estimates for 2004.