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With a tap on the shoulder, Marchionne seeks some critical feedback

Bradford Wernle covers Chrysler for Automotive News
LOS ANGELES -- Sergio Marchionne has become such an industry rock star these days he's immediately beset by reporters the minute he sets foot on an auto show floor or anywhere else for that matter.

They gathered around him in swarms today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Chrysler Group unveiled the Fiat 500 and six Dodge models, asking him about everything from the GM IPO to the marketing strategy for the new Fiat 500.

So it was something of a surprise when he wandered onstage after the Dodge press conference virtually unaccompanied and began asking a couple of journalists for their opinions of the new 2011 Dodge Charger and five other Dodge vehicles unveiled here.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, right, and Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America, center, cut the first piece of a cake, created by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, left, at a party at Chrysler‘s new flagship dealership, Motor Village LA. The enormous Fiat 500 cake creation marked the return of Fiat to the U.S. market. Photo credit: Chrysler
The man who had been asked so many questions here wanted to ask a few questions of his own.

One photographer was busy taking pictures of the Charger's red leather interior when Marchionne tapped him on the shoulder and asked: “How do you like the interior? Would you buy one?”

The photographer briefly turned around and looked at Marchionne as if slightly annoyed that someone would interrupt his photo session. Clearly not recognizing who had just asked his opinion, the snapper didn't offer an opinion on the interior. Saying he wasn't interested in buying a car at the moment, he brusquely turned his back on the CEO and resumed shooting pictures.

“Nobody wants to talk to me,” Marchionne said in mock disappointment. “I can't sell a car.”

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