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Marchionne says Chrysler and Fiat will have a mutual relationship

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne addresses the Automotive News World Congress on Jan. 13, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo

americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- Sergio Marchionne became the CEO of Chrysler after Fiat purchased a 20 percent stage in the American automaker. He addressed the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday, January 13 inside the Renaissance Center in Detroit. Marchionne said the partnership is "about listening, not dictating." He added that Chrysler "cannot Americanize Fiat." The CEO attracted a group of protestors who walked into the conference and raised a large banner that was attached to balloons.

The two men let go of the banner, which rose to the ceiling and read: "Fiat-Chrysler: Damaged When Delivered?" One protestor, who was later identified as Matteo Colombi, handed out fliers that read: "The Fiat/chrysler Bailout Bandit. Tell Chrysler: Stop Killing Good Jobs." Colombi shouted "vergogna," which means shame on you in Italian. At the end of his speech, a woman got on stage and accused Marchionne of killing her mother. "My mother died because of a Chrysler product," said Christina Catalano.

Marchionne responded to the woman's remarks by saying that a plant in Sicily would be shut down.

"That decision is irreversible," the Chrysler CEO responded. "We are the largest industrial organization in Italy but we do not have the responsibility to govern the country."

Marchionne said that only six major automakers would remain in the next 10 years. Two of them would be in America.

"Many new Chrysler vehicles will appear with Fiat engines," he added. "We have a lot of activities in China. Europe needs to be restructured. I am not in favor of government interventions. I want a chance to fight. Ram is big and strong enough to run on it's own. Ferrari doesn't do any advertising at all except the Formula One venue."

The Chrysler CEO said his top priority is to repay every dollar of government loans and monetize interest of the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust.

Roger Penske says the auto industry is still in a crisis

The Detroit businessman said the auto industry "faces many challenges." Penske said the industry has lost focus and needs many years to get back to where it once was. The car industry represents 20 percent of total retail sales in the United States, he added.

The Big Three operate two third of all dealerships in operation in America. Penske said there would about 3,000 dealership closures between 2009 and 2011. We will see "rapid repair centers instead of collision centers," he told the crowd. The businessman saw his own Cadillac dealership get closed.

Penske believes that financing is a vital aspect of vehicle sales. After many automakers stopped offering financing, sales plummeted. However, Hyundai was able to increase its sales and market share in a down market.

"The key step is to disconnect ourselves from foreign oil," the Detroit businessman said. "The first step is to convert from mpg to pounds of CO2. In the United States, we tax diesel. We need to embrace the idea of electric drive.

Penske said the Detroit Grand Prix should return to Belle Isle in 2011. "We have the infastructure," he admitted.

Roger Penske accepted the Borg Warner Team Owner's Trophy at the ceremony. Moments later, Helio Castroneves received the Borg Worner Championship Driver's Trophy at the ceremony for winning the Indianapolis 500 race. Castroneves is one of only nine drivers to have won three Indy 500 races. Penske's drivers have won the Indy 500 race 15 times, more than three times any other team owner.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Two protestors ran into the conference and raised this banner during Marchionne's speech.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Borg Warner CEO Tim Manganello hands the Championship Driver's Trophy to Helio Castroneves.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Roger Penske makes some remarks after receiving the Borg Warner Team Owner's Trophy.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Minutes later, Roger Penske gave his keynote address at the Automotive News World Congress.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Borg Warner trophy is presented to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 race. It was on display for the public to view at the Automotive News World Congress.

 

This page was last updated on Fri, January 29, 2010 1:51 AM

 

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