Hell be hoping fresh models mean Chrysler looks better in the coming quarters

He'll be hoping fresh models mean Chrysler looks better in the coming quarters

Sergio Marchionne, the man still in the process of saving Fiat, is a man now with a plan.

“Europe is less key to us. We are shifting to markets that are much more rewarding.”

He has given up on his plea to all European competitors to agree to make fewer and sell less. Ford and GM both think they are on a product-led renaissance and Renault has too much French government DNA in its make-up to give way and let some blood. But he still persists with the idea though at lower decibels: “There is an upcoming change in Europe and they are beginning to listen.”

Fiat in partnership with Chrysler is the 6th largest car company in the world and Marchionne has a plan to crank up its four million global sales by 10%. He is getting market share gains, he reckons.

“We do expect that a combined entity will allow us some intelligent growth.”

He also thinks that the mood in the market for austerity is faltering. In the second half of this year, he says, “the bottom will be touched.”

Sufficiently comfortable is he that he is able to allow a little of his valuable time summarising the contributions of the super-cars: Maserati, thanks to the Quattroporte is booming. Marvellous how fantastic that sounds in Italian; imagine trying to raise the excitement with your friends by telling them you just bought a Fourdoor.  

Ferrari is driving in line with last year and is barely worth a mention: it just keeps on making money.

In far greater need of a re-launch is Alfa Romeo. Lovely name, great looks, long history….but: shabby presentation, bad reputation, under-promoted. “We will have our plans by the end of the year.”

Marchionne is still scratching his head on Chrysler. In the first quarter it was down on expectations and “the rest of the year will be challenging.”

He doesn’t know whether to go for broke and risk folding Fiat and Chrysler together or carry in investing in parallel paths. There is also talk of giving one or other or both independent stock-market listings.

He doesn’t so much sound tired on the conference call as less bombastic. When first he arrived on the scene as a very successful banker in search of a challenge he needed to stamp his mark very firmly on the squirming Fiat Group to ensure that people would listen to him…and he has done that. The next phase is clear….he tells it himself: there will be a lot of squealing and kicking on two continents but the cutting and mending now just has to be done.

It may be an eight month wait for the answers to the end of the year but it is going to be good viewing when it airs…

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