Blog: Simon WarburtonMarchionne generates huge scrum

Simon Warburton | 12 January 2012

I finally met James Cain from GM's financial news section yesterday in the RenCen - once I'd finished the obligatory several circuits of the place getting lost.

James was the spokesman for GM during Saab's recent and prolonged demise and was always on the end of a phone to front up to some fairly hostile Swedish reaction to GM's tough stance on licensing issues.

He also had some fascinating insight into how the iconic RenCen - this year thankfully with less motown music everywhere - was built.

Staying with the RenCen theme, last night's Automotive News World Congress dinner in the building, featured an emotional appearance by British racing driver Dan Wheldon's wife. Wheldon - winner of the Indianapolis 500 Borg-Warner Trophy in 2011 - died at the end of last year in a racing accident and the supplier paid tribute to his short life.

I've been in a few media scrums in my time, but last night's bunfight after Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne spoke at the dinner took some beating.

Surrounded by dozens of the world's media - and four huge security guards replete with ear-pieces - the diminutive Fiat boss in trademark black jumper struggled to make himself heard above a barrage of questions.

Nonetheless, he gamely answered a bewildering array of shouted topics with the sheer mass of media present testament to his global influence. And the Detroit audience during his presentation certainly appreciated what he'd done by turning Chrysler around.

The weather's just started to get, well a bit more Detroit-like after a few glorious sunny days. Cold and raining, the forecast is predicting quite a bit of snow tonight and tomorrow, so fingers crossed the big white bird makes it out of Detroit Metro airport.


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