CHICAGO Chrysler Group
LLC achieved more than 25 percent of its 2012 vehicle sales
target during the first quarter by selling more than 600,000
units, and "indications for the remainder of the year are
absolutely positive," said chairman and chief executive officer
"I have no bad news to tell
you," he said during the automakers quarterly conference
call. The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company posted net income
of $473 million, quadruple that of a year ago, on revenue that
jumped 25.2 percent to $16.4 billion.
Marchionne described the market
as "incredibly rational. Everybody is fighting competitively
(for sales) but nobody is doing anything stupid. As long as no
one builds additional capacity in the U.S. without exploring
the possibility of fully utilizing industrial infrastructure,
we will be fine.
"I see no indication of anyone
going crazy here. It would be visible in the pricing. So far,
everybody has a very disciplined approachits a good
foundation on which to look at the whole of 2012," he said.
Chrysler is launching the Dodge
Dart in the second quarter. "We are going to start framing the
car Monday (April 30). We look forward to a successful launch
of a C-segment sedan, a piece of the market weve been
absent from for a long time. Were expecting great volume
for the Dart," Marchionne said.
However, preparing a launch like
the Dart is no "walk in the park. We had an issue over a
particular component crop up overnight. Given that were
starting framing Monday, its an important issue," he
speculate on how well the Dart will be received. As production
is only beginning, he said, he wouldnt be able to see the
potential before the second half. "Until I see customers
driving it, I will reserve judgment."
The Dart is being produced at
Chryslers Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant, where the
automaker has invested $700 million on a new body shop, paint
shop, stamping line and quality control.
Amid rising vehicle sales and
product launches, "everyone is dealing with increased demand on
their production systems. We are committing to third shifts at
Jefferson (Detroit), Belvidere and Toledo (Ohio). (The last two
are) running flat out," Marchionne said. "Most of our plants
are being tasked to the max."