Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is predicting a US sales number of 13.7m vehicles for 2012 as he hailed the efficiency changes wrought by American manufacturers, although Europe remains a concern. 

Speaking at this year's Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, the Chrysler chief noted how unnecessary capacity had been stripped from US inventories as the industry battled back from the catastrophic past few years.

"Our forecast for 2012 sees a number of 13.7m vehicles for the current year," he said. "Not that many years ago, the US industry looked at 16m...and yet it endured industrial inefficiency.

"All the players found the courage to make transformational change. During the reconstruction, every ounce of unnecessary capacity was taken out of the system. We can all survive. Making and selling great cars is once again at the centre of our business as it should be."

Marchionne's comments echo a largely upbeat mood at this year's Detroit Auto Show, but he did point to the one fly in the ointment - Europe.

"The real problem we face right now is Europe," he said. "The currency and the alleged union it represents are clearly the significant issues that cause nervousness around the world.

"We have yet to see how these austerity plans will be carried out. The fallout from a European recession will not be confined - it will spread to North America. You can only make contingency plans and hope you get a timely resolution."

Despite his European concerns, the Chrysler CEO also highlighted at the World Congress how Chrysler had "paid back every cent" of its US and Canadian loans "with interest."