Still, automakers won't be able to purchase credits from one another forever. That has meant an engineering push inside FCA to find another solution.
"The biggest challenge for me now is to find truly a compact and midsize car solution that is actually [greenhouse gas] positive, by a stretch," the CEO said. "And you know how the rules are, so it's a question of footprint and so on. I need to find a solution, so I've got a bunch of kids who are sitting in the basement tearing apart the front end to find out whether we can find a way out."
The other major powertrain issue hanging over FCA has been ongoing performance problems with its nine-speed automatic transmission. The nine-speed, which debuted in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, had been the source of troubling consumer complaints even as it rolled out in other vehicles. Earlier this month, FCA said it had produced its one-millionth unit of the nine-speed at its massive transmission complex in Kokomo, Ind.
Marchionne said changes have been made to the nine-speed for the 2016 model year that should quiet its critics.
"We've been working our ass off with [designer ZF Friedrichshafen] on the nine speed," he said. "There were some things that were built in as a technical solution that proved to be, in hindsight, unwise, and so the remedial stuff has been put in place."