Category: News Briefs Published on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:26 Written by Jeff Gilbert, WWJ
DETROIT — (WWJ) As the North American International Auto Show brings large crowds to downtown Detroit, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne would like to see a vibrant downtown all the time.
In a one-on-one interview, Marchionnne told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert that the two floors Chrysler has leased in a downtown office building won’t make a major impact on their own, but they can make a statement to others.
“I sincerely hope it gets taken as an indication of the commitment that others can make to the city. I need other people down there, it’s not just us.”
He’s told suppliers about the benefits of being downtown. And even after his time heading the United Way Torch Drive ends, Marchionne says he will find some way to be involved in the city.
“The signal that we’re sending out is the right signal,” he said. “But everybody needs to roll up their sleeves and come down. We need to be there.”
In the famous “Imported from Detroit” ad during the 2011 Super Bowl, Chrysler tied itself to the city. An ad featuring Clint Eastwood last year created a political controversy.
What’s on tap for 2013?
“I don’t know if we’ll be in the Super Bowl, at least not the way we have been in the past.”
To have a Super Bowl ad, Marchionne says things would have to come together just right. He’s also not sure if they can sustain the impact.
“For Chrysler to keep repeating commercials that ultimately have that level of significance, you’re already pushing your luck.”
The attention right now is on a second phase of new product introductions that begins with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. It will be followed by the as yet un-named (at least publicly) replacement for the Jeep Liberty, and a Fiat based overhaul of the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan.
There are other vehicles that have been shown to dealers, but have not been discussed publicly.
“There’s a whole lot of stuff coming at the speed of light.”
Car and truck sales should continue to rise in the coming year, says Marchionne, and new products should help Chrysler increase their market share.
As he deals with a recession in Europe, Marchionne also keeps a close eye on negotiations in the U.S. over the nation’s debt.
“This show in Washington is serious,” he said. “It needs a resolution; otherwise the consequences could be disastrous.”
But, he does believe that, as happened before, there will be a last minute agreement.
“It’ll be messy, between here and then, but we’ll get there.”
Marchionne says Chrysler will hire more people in the coming year, but he wouldn’t give a number. He said they are looking for more capacity, but not looking to build any new factories.
Since Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2009, the company has either brought back or added 19 thousand workers.
“That’s how bankruptcies are supposed to work,” he said. “Textbook solutions, you go in, you clean yourself up, you keep on moving, right?”
The next step for Marchionne personally is to quit smoking.
“It’s gonna happen,” he said. “I’m in the process of winding myself off the stuff.”
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!