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Sergio Marchionne, CEO & President of Fiat S.p.A. and of course, top guy at Chrysler addressed us media types at this year's auto show in Toronto.
In his keynote speech, Marchionne first apologized for the troubles and chaos caused when the North American auto industry seemed to self destruct, requiring bailouts and bankruptcies to set itself straight again. He listed numerous mistakes made by the industry six years ago and said that they would all do a better job thanks to refinancing and reorganization.
Eager to get "past the past", Marchionne then praised the direction that the auto industry is taking, as it restabilizes and is starting to show strength not seen in nearly a decade. He spoke of the industry's renewed vitality and of it's return to profitability. He pointed out that there were 1.7 million new cars and trucks sold in Canada last year, and we are on track for more this year.
Sergio Marchionne, a dual citizen of both Italy and Canada, joked about returning to his hometown for the event. He praised Canada's multiculturalism and unity, using it as an example for the recent merger of Chrysler and Fiat, saying that that the company is "following the Canadian paradigm."
When questioned about ongoing negotiations with the provincial and federal levels of government, he said that the company wants to invest heavily in Canada.
"Look, I grew up in this country. I remember the size of our manufacturing sector was on the car side, and I remember how many plants we had not just in Ontario but Quebec too. And I've seen that position shrink over time. It has also happened in the U.S. and it's my sincere hope that we don't end up shrinking this business to the point where it becomes an irrelevant part of the Canadian landscape." Marchionne then pointed out that for every job at a Canadian automotive plant, nine additional jobs are created as a result, often at parts suppliers.
When addressing issues concerning environmental issues and cars, he said: “Having recovered from the recession we have the opportunity to play a leading role in the creation of a cleaner, safer planet. Gasoline has been the dominant form of fuel for more than a century, but on this show floor you can see the evidence that we are in a period of transition.”
Marchionne had this to say about safety: “Automakers are rapidly deploying advanced technologies which make vehicles safer to drive. But, with gains in safety come a host of challenging issues that must be cooperatively addressed by automakers, regulators, and other stakeholders. Issues such as improved safety and emissions reduction are significant tests of our ability, as an industry, to play a leadership role in transportation for the long run.” He did caution though, “We won’t get to an endgame overnight.”
Sergio Marchionne is well known for his skill of extracting excellence from the companies he runs. Seems things are coming along nicely.
Photo credit: Linda Aylesworth
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca