America’s number three vehicle manufacturer Chrysler Group plans to shift its production focus to passenger cars and away from light trucks, minivans and sport-utility vehicles.

The auto giant – part of DaimlerChrysler – was one of the chief advocates of SUVs, leading the move away from passenger cars in the 1980s. Light trucks and SUVs now make up around 70% of Chrysler’s sales.

However, it is reversing this trend as part of a bid to combat imported models and boost sales by a million vehicles a year over the next decade.

Chrysler ceo Dieter Zetsche told an industry conference that two-thirds of the 21 new or remodelled vehicles due for launch between 2003 and 2005 will be passenger cars.

“Today the success of the imports in this market is obvious, particularly in their expanded share of the passenger-car market,” he declared. “Obvious, too, is that the truck segments where domestic manufacturers have prospered – and profited – are also now under attack.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff