Fiat Chrysler’sMarchionne lays out global push

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DETROIT: Newly merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles laid out aggressive plans on Tuesday, including a revitalization of the Alfa Romeo sports-car line and the doubling of Jeep sales, mainly in China.

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Chief executive Sergio Marchionne said the Italian-American carmaker aims to build sales not only in the United States but in other markets as it seeks to rival General Motors and Volkswagen.

“The history of the automobile industry is littered with alliances that have failed,” Marchionne told investors, suppliers and reporters at Chrysler headquarters in Detroit, newly relabeled Fiat Chrysler.

“In the past five years, Fiat and Chrysler have learned to work together and trust each other,” he said.

This has led to a sharing of technical knowledge and market savvy, which is turning the company into a true global automaker, he said.

“In a flat world, you cannot be secure in your own market unless you can compete on a global basis,” Marchionne added.

Fiat completed its buyout of Chrysler in January, though the formal corporate union, combining their accounts, will not be completed until mid-2014. After that the company will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

On Tuesday the Fiat Group released its earnings for the first quarter—with Chrysler still a minority-held subsidiary—that saw it falling to a loss of 319 million euros ($444 million) mainly on costs associated with its takeover of Chrysler.

Vehicle shipments were up 9.1 percent from the year-earlier quarter to 1.1 million units, and net revenues gained 12.3 percent to 22.1 billion euros.

With the European market in poor shape, and the US market booming, Chrysler’s sales and profits have been crucial to its Italian parent.

Marchionne said the company is determined to build more presence in the world’s strongest markets, including the United States and China, over the next five years.

The combined company wants to increase its market share in the US-Canada-Mexico market to 15 percent from 11.5 percent, helped by an expanded product line.

Jeep especially has been singled out for a broad growth effort, Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand, told investors.

Jeeps are now built only in the US but the firm expects sales to grow by 20 percent per year over the next five years, doubling this year’s expected one million units by 2018, Manley said.

In the next five years Jeep will begin building cars in Brazil, Italy, India and China.

“Jeep is one of the fastest-growing imported brands in China and this is our largest Jeep market outside the US,” Manley said.

A separate push is in store for Alfa Romeo, which has sagged behind rival luxury sports cars in Europe and has been virtually absent in the United States while Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW have enjoyed booming sales.

Harald Wester, the Fiat executive in charge of Alfa Romeo, said the brand has earned much glory on the race track but has never had much financial success.

AFP

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