Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler-Fiat, is one of the few auto executives who seems to make news each time he opens his mouth. He has an enviable command of the smallest details of his business and a slew of people who report directly to him as Chrysler Group continues its recovery.
Marchionne, 59, will make the keynote address at the convention this afternoon.
In an hour-long interview last month at the Detroit auto show, he spoke about future product and Chrysler's dealership network.
Is it important for all Chrysler Group dealerships to look the same?
I think they need to look the same. There has to be a common Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge experience. I'm a mass marketer. I have no allusions about this. But the quality of that experience needs to be the best that you can get out of the mass marketers. That's what I want them to be. I pay them enough to get that done.
Have you been following the TrueCar.com news?
They're going to play a role, I think, in disciplining the dealer body. They act as a great conscience. If they act to try and restrict the [dealer profits], to try and [reduce dealer profits], to make you work to get back to your [original profit], I think it's wonderful.
Let's watch it. At the end of the day, I'm not going to oppose it. I don't think it's a bad thing. It's healthy for all of us. It keeps you focused.
Where are you going to go with minivans?
We need a new one.
Are you going to have a Dodge minivan?
If there is one, it's going to be substantially different than the Chrysler. ... The architecture that's handling the SUV for Dodge is too expensive to package. It's a Grand Cherokee package, so we need to find a cheaper way to make it, so that may be the solution.
For the next Chrysler 200, are you thinking of a dramatically different approach or an evolution?
I think we bought time [with the restyling from the former Sebring]. We've got a couple cars in clinics right now that we're trying to get some read [on] from consumers. They'll have to be different. They have to be because we have to move them on. They're still a D-segment sedan, but they're a bit larger than the current car. We probably need a hatch on the CUSW architecture, the [Chrysler] 100, but that will complete it.
Tell us about the successor vehicle for the Jeep Liberty.
It is done. It's being tooled. It's a phenomenal car. It cures all the ills of the current Liberty and it moves the brand forward by light-years. We owe it to the brand.
Will it be a true Jeep?
You'll get a trail-rated version that will do all the weird, wonderful things that you want to do. There's not enough junk that we can sell you to attach to the car. c