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SM summarizes some Chrysler issues

by David Zatz on

Sergio Marchionne held a press roundtable during the Detroit Auto Show. While parts of it have been mined by the mainstream media, others have been less public.

Marchionne started the roundtable by noting that his personal weight loss was inspired by his auto work, making the vehicles lighter. Cutting out smoking is his next venture – “you need to be sequenced in life.”

There are two more events needed for Fiat to get its full 35% share of Chrysler (without paying for additional shares held by governments and the pension fund): distribution through Fiat in South America, and the launch of a high-mileage car based on a Fiat design. They expect the latter to occur in the third quarter of 2011.

“More than likely” Fiat will buy more shares to bring their ownership up to 49%-51%.

“What we did in 2010 is to create the conditions for this house to be competitive in 2011… all of the stuff was done in 18 months. We’re now in the marketplace, … we have the tools to do it with, I think we want to sell 2 million cars this year, we sold 1.6 million last year. … All the work that we’re doing now to launch the next series of vehicles that will happen in 2012 and 2013, is the basis on which those launches will be based.”

Mr. Marchionne pointed to the Liberty and D-size (midsize) cars as being problematic; the 200 and Avenger were just relaunched, but the next midsize cars must be introduced soon. The Compass was just relaunched but also needs to be rejuvenated with more modern technology. The Liberty was done earlier, and the vehicle cannot, he said, be updated to his satisfaction.

He also said perceptions that Chrysler is most at risk of a rise in energy prices were overblown, because it ignored the work of the last 18 months, including the new V6 and smaller cars that are to be launched in the next year.

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