Chrysler Corp. is considering filing a formal complaint with Washington trade regulators, accusing Japanese auto makers of illegally dumping cars here at unfair prices, Vice Chairman Robert Miller said Tuesday.
During an appearance before the Detroit Economic Club, Miller also said the nation's No. 3 auto maker expects to decide within 60 days which of its auto assembly plants will be shut permanently as a way to clear excess capacity acquired last year when Chrysler took over American Motors Corp.
Miller sidestepped questions about a published report that Chrysler is in talks to sell all or part of its $3-billion Acustar Inc. parts-making subsidiary. He said the company is in talks about possible deals all the time but will make not any announcement until "we have something to report."
Miller said prices of Japanese cars exported to the United States have gone up 25% in the past 2 1/2 years, while the yen has appreciated 87% against the dollar. By contrast, he said, the Detroit-based auto makers have raised their prices an average 9.3% in the same period.
"When the yen has gone up 87% and their prices have gone up only 25%, that's smoke, and our government investigators should be looking for fire," Miller said.
Earlier in the day, the Detroit News reported that Chrysler was negotiating the sale of all or part of Acustar. It said the company had received inquiries from at least three separate companies.
The sale of Acustar would enable Chrysler to drastically reduce its auto parts manufacturing while enabling it to seek cheaper sources for vehicle parts, the News said.
"A company our size frequently receives inquiries about possible acquisitions or divestitures. Our policy is not to comment on such inquiries," Chrysler spokesman John Guiniven said.