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German Automakers to Up Production

January 25, 2002

FRANKFURT (AP) _ Germany’s three major premium automakers plan increased production this year on some models even as rivals are scaling back output.

Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW all have plans to add shifts to production schedules or are still seeking ways to make more cars than originally planned, company officials said Thursday.

The news comes after announcements in recent months from Audi’s parent-company Volkswagen, Italy’s Fiat and General Motors’ Opel that they were slowing output because of sagging demand.

Audi, based in Ingolstadt, will add two Saturdays in February to its main plant’s production schedule to meet high demand for the A3 and A4 cars, spokesman Joachim Cordshagen said.

Though Germany’s car market, which shrank by 5.5 percent in December, is widely forecast to continue to decline in 2002, Cordshagen said Audi this year ``is counting on stable vehicle sales and a higher market share.″

Audi’s market share in Germany in 2001 was 7.5 percent, with slightly fewer than 255,000 cars sold.

DaimlerChrysler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, is eyeing a production increase for Mercedes’ sporty luxury SL due to strong demand since it went on sale in October 2001, spokesman Stephan Oeri said.

He said it is too soon to say how many SLs the automaker will add to its output, as it’s still looking at ways to build on its flexible production system.

BMW, which is due to report 2001 sales on Monday, has already reached agreements with worker representatives to add 16 shifts at its Munich plant and six in Regensburg, where the popular 3-series is made, a spokesman said. The company is also talking with employee representatives about adding still more shifts, most likely at its Dingolfing plant, where BMW makes the mid-sized 5-Series and the new top-of-the-line 7-Series.


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