FRANKFURT - DaimlerChrysler will build the PT Cruiser at its plant in Graz, Austria, from summer 2001.
The Eurostar factory will make up to 50,000 units of the retro-styled Chrysler model each year for left-hand-drive European markets.
The PT Cruiser is currently produced at DCX's plant in Toluca, Mexico, which has an annual capacity for 180,000 units. The car is sold out in Europe for this year.
Graz is preparing to install a flexible production system that will allow parallel production of Chrysler Voyager minivans and PT Cruisers.
Voyager sales - in common with large minivans across Europe - have declined in recent months. The current Voyager will be replaced next year.
'But the small minivan segment - with cars like the PT Cruiser - is skyrocketing at the moment,' said Gary Cash, president of the Eurostar plant. 'This is one of the things that helped me sell the idea of building the PT Cruiser at Graz.
'We don't have to build a new bodyshop at Graz, because we have two bodyshops,' said Cash. 'The new Voyager can go into one bodyshop and the old Voyager in the other. Then we can stop the old Voyager and put in the PT Cruiser.'
Stampings are expected to be sourced locally from a Magna International plant.
At the plant next door in Graz, Steyr-Daimler-Puch makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Mercedes-Benz M-class, G-wagen, E-class 4matic and Unimog truck for DaimlerChrysler.