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Marchionne comments cover broad range

by Bill Cawthon on

It’s no surprise the media wanted to talk to Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchioone on the first day of the North American International Auto Show. Marchionne spoke with Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, Il Sole 24 Ore and others. What follows is a precis of his many comments:

Chrysler-Fiat merger: 2104 following settlement of the VEBA stake in Chrysler. Acquisition of the VEBA shares won’t happen until 2013.

Future headquarters: Too early to say. Could be Auburn Hills; could be Turin; could be somewhere in Latin America. Maarchionne said he doesn’t look at possibly leaving Italy as being a betrayal but more as the child that has grown up and is leaving home. Marchionne said he really likes Auburn Hills.

On the European Union: Fix it or forget about it.

On adding a third automaker to the alliance: “There may be a third partner,” Marchionne said. “You need to build a new level of efficiency.” Marchionne went on to say the third member could be “of any color you want if it gives me the level of industrial convergence I’m looking for.”

Up from his original estimate of an annual turnover of five to six million vehicles, Marchionne says he is now looking for eight to ten million to ensure long-term viability. Only General MOtors, Volkswagen and Toyota are at that level now.

Potential European candidates include GM’s money-losing Opel, though Marchionne had tried that route before without success, or Chinese-owned Volvo.

Sales: On target and pushing for 2.4 million this year. Marchionne says it will be tough.

Retirement: Not until at least 2015.

On the new look: Marchionne said he hadn’t shaved since Christmas and got the scarf on the Internet.

On his last name: It’s properly pronounced “Mar-ski-onn” with the emphasis on the last syllable.

Sources: Bloomberg News, Il Sole 24 Ore, Reuters, Wall Street Journal

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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