Daimler may launch Smart minicar in U.S.
The car manufacturer is also considering selling the unit.
FRANKFURT, (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler is leaning in favor of launching its struggling Smart minicar brand in the United States, its chief executive told a German newspaper on Sunday.
"It is now more likely that we will decide in favor of, rather than against (entering) the U.S.," Dieter Zetsche told Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview released in advance of publication on Monday.
A decision on launching the next generation of Smart two-seaters in the United States is expected in the first half of this year, Zetsche said.
Smart narrowed its operating loss in 2005 from about 600 million euros ($714 million) in 2004, Zetsche told an analyst conference call earlier this month.
While Zetsche has said he wants to give the unit time to achieve its target of breaking even next year, he has also given investment bank Goldman Sachs (Research) the task of screening parties potentially interested in buying the brand.
Separately, Zetsche told Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Sunday that DaimlerChrysler (Research) had received a range of inquiries about possible cooperation arrangements for the Smart brand. He described them as ranging from dumb to interesting.
"We have asked Goldman Sachs to examine and evaluate the proposals," he said.
For more auto news, click here.