DETROIT -- Chrysler Group and Fiat Group eked out small profits in the first quarter.
Chrysler was hurt by expensive vehicle launches, while Fiat was contending with Europe's nasty recession.
At Chrysler, net income dropped 65 percent to $166 million. The company attributed the lower profit to its launch of two re-engineered products, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickup.
Fiat's trading profit, excluding Chrysler, was 25 million euros, or about $32.7 million, in the first three months. That compares with a loss of $13.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Trading profit is earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items.
Revenue dropped 1.5 percent to $11.14 billion in the quarter, excluding Chrysler.
Chrysler said its first-quarter revenue dropped 6 percent to $15.39 billion. The culprit was lost shipments of the profitable Grand Cherokee and Ram.
"The Ram Heavy Duty and the Grand Cherokee yield some of the highest variable margins that we've got in the house," said Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. "You need to be very careful that you don't think that a unit miss is a unit miss in all segments.
"The Grand Cherokee launch was not painless, but it should not have caused the disruption as it did," he said. "This is a one-time event. It's a one-off. Just close your eyes, plug your nose, and move on from here. I knew I was going to be limping in the quarter. I didn't know that I was going to be limping that much."
Chrysler said its net income for the year would be about $2.2 billion and kept its estimate for about 2.7 million vehicle shipments this year.
Fiat said it continued to target an increased full-year trading profit, to between $5.24 billion and $5.90 billion, from $4.98 billion in 2012.
Marchionne said production of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, which replaces the Jeep Liberty, begins "sometime in the middle of June" -- a delay of about a month from the May 23 date he gave earlier this year.
Chrysler's global shipments declined in the first quarter to 574,000, from 607,000 a year earlier, mainly because of the end of Jeep Liberty production.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report