STUTTGART - In a desperate bid to rescue DaimlerChrysler's plunging share price, Chairman Jurgen Schrempp has detailed the company's new-model plans through 2004.
The unprecedented disclosures at D/C's half-year financial press conference included plans for a new C-class hatchback sedan, a new SL roadster and a coupe based on the Smart roadster.
The plans were released despite the objections of Mercedes-Benz/Smart boss Jurgen Hubbert.
'I do this against his will,' said Schrempp. Hubbert, sitting alongside, nodded his head.
'I'm not in favor of telling the competitors what we will do in the future,' said Hubbert later.
But Schrempp wants financial analysts to know. D/C's total shareholder value return plunged 37.4 percent in the year ending June 30, according to a Pricewaterhouse-Coopers/Automotive News Europe analysis, and 17 percent in the second quarter alone. Since Daimler-Benz and Chrysler joined in November 1998, their combined market capitalization has shrunk to less than Daimler-Benz AG's at the time of the merger.
Schrempp also described plans to boost profits by cutting E6 billion in costs over the next three years. The company announced a 3 percent increase in second quarter operating profits to E2.63 billion on a 17 percent rise in revenue to E43.74 billion.
But with investors unimpressed by numbers, Schrempp tried a different tact - revealing secret plans. The future models he announced included:
In 2001, an all-new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster; a C-class hatchback sedan to compete with the BMW 3 series Compact; and a C-class station wagon. The Mercedes-Benz Vaneo, a light commercial vehicle based on the A-class, will also debut.
In 2002, a new E-class sedan; a C-class-based CLK coupe; the Maybach super-luxury car; and the Mercedes SLR super-sportscar.
In 2003 a Smart roadster and a roadster-based coupe.
In 2004, a Smart four-seat/four-door car being developed with Mitsubishi Motors under the code name Z-car. Schrempp also confirmed that Hyundai would join the project.
At least four versions of the Z-car are planned among the three brands, using a common platform and shared components such as engines and gearboxes.