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Marchionne: Chrysler will help Fiat break even

by Bill Cawthon on

“The year 2011 has changed Fiat forever, with the spinoff of the truck and the purchase of the majority of Chrysler,” said Fiat chairman John Elkann as he opened a stockholders meeting to approve the 2011 financials and okay the conversion of Fiat preference shares into ordinary shares, a change that will smooth the way for the merger of Chrysler and Fiat.

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told the stockholders that he expects combined Fiat and Chrysler sales to hit between 4.1 and 4.4 million in 2012 with turnover of more than 77 billion euros (US$101 billion) with an operating profit of 3.8 to 4.5 billion euros (US$5-6 billion) with the difference between the high and low figures dependent on the European market. He said the company is now able to deal with market fluctuations with more confidence.

Marchionne again used the podium as a bully pulpit to press home his message that the world has changed and that Italy and Italians must change with it: Fiat is no longer an Italian company; it’s a multinational. He spoke about the sense of entitlement and how it needs to change to a “healthy sense of duty.”

Marchionne didn’t disclose any new plans for Fiat other than to say he wants to put Fiat’s Italian plants to work building cars for export. After reporting sales in the worst March since 1980 yesterday, Marchionne expects the European market to be slow for the next few years and is counting on the resurgent Chrysler to help keep the company profitable.

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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