Sergio Marchionne has become such an industry rock star that 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 last week 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 2011 Dodge Charger and five other new Dodge vehicles.
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."