Sergio stirs Traverse City

He landed in Detroit directly from Italy at 1 a.m., slept a few hours and by 6 a.m. was boarding again for Traverse City.

From Turin to Traverse City, Mich., in less than 24 hours, with plenty of juicy material teed up for another performance.

The man now known by only six letters came here with a message. Or a dozen.

Dressed in a black golf shirt and still slim, Sergio injected life into an informative - but hardly stirring - conference week here.

Perbacco! Sergio stirred it up.

In front of a standing-room-only crowd, he riffed on unions, China, technology, IPOs, CAFE, the Wrangler and Europe's demise - and that was only in the first 26 minutes.

Few executives stir the imagination of suppliers, automakers, car guys, heads of state and Eminem. But no one is really like Sergio these days.

When he was done, several questions were answered. Would Chrysler pursue an IPO? Not in 2012. Will Chrysler expand in China? Absolutely. How long will he stay on? At least until 2015.

Italian journalists took notes. North Americans scribbled feverishly.

"We're in this for the long haul," Sergio said privately 90 minutes after his speech. "We're in this to win."

And with that he was gone. Out the door of Mackinac Room A, a trail of handlers clearing the way and even more folks shaking their heads in disbelief - or admiration - or both.

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