DC Will Hit The G-Spot

Stuttgart, Germany -- Bloomberg reported in a story that DaimlerChrysler AG, the No. 5 carmaker, plans to introduce the Mercedes-Benz G-Class off-road vehicle in the U.S. this fall to capitalize on the popularity of the M-Class sport-utility vehicle.

The G-Class is made by Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG in Austria under license for Mercedes-Benz. The company has made 150,000 of the vehicles in 22 years of production and will build about 6,000 this year. A fully equipped G-Class will have a suggested retail price of $72,500 in the U.S., the company said.

The G-Class predates the boom in sport-utility vehicles of last 10 years. Originally designed as an off-road competitor to the Range Rover, the company has moved the vehicle up-market beginning in 1990 with the introduction of a luxury model.

Since its introduction, the G-Class "has developed into a cult car," said Helmut Petri, head of production of Mercedes-Benz cars, in a faxed statement.

The company has sold both the M-class and G-class in Europe. The M-class is built both in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and under license in Graz, Austria. The M-Class has a suggested retail price of $36,445 in the U.S. Mercedes-Benz says it's sold 319,000 of the M-Class since its introduction in 1997.

DaimlerChrysler shares fell as much 1.52 euros, or 3 percent, to 48.88 euros in Frankfurt. The U.S. shares fell 71 cents to $45.09.

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