Chrysler CEO Talks Trucks, Engines and Europe

Chrysler CEO Talks Trucks, Engines and Europe

Chrysler made a series of big announcements today at its Mack I Engine Plant in Detroit. 

Following the presentation, which included comments from Mayor Dave Bing, company Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne answered journalists’ questions on a wide variety of topics ranging from the economic situation in Europe to the new RAM pickup truck.

Part of today’s announcement centered on Chrysler’s award-winning Pentastar V6 engine. The company is investing nearly $200 million to produce them at Mack I. Right now they’re manufactured at Chrysler’s plant in Trenton, Mich. and at another facility in Mexico.

To build even more of these in-demand engines it is expanding operations in Trenton. Chrysler is spending some $40 million to add a flexible line that can do double duty making both the Pentastar V6 and the company’s new Tigershark four-cylinder.

Beyond manufacturing, the current version of this powerplant displaces 3.6-liters, but more sizes are coming. Marchionne said Chrysler is “working diligently on other variants of it.” He’s likely referring to a 3.2-liter version of the engine that’s rumored to be in development. He also said “you’re going to see a downsizing of engines across the fleet,” which seems to confirm a smaller six is in the works.

As for the economic situation in Europe, which has been hammering automakers, he said “fundamentally the system is not stable.” His prescription for what ails the industry is relatively simple, in fact it’s been done in the U.S.“Europe needs to do exactly the same thing,” he said. Automakers need to restructure and close plants to make capacity meet demand.

According to Marchionne, “Fiat has other businesses that generate cash,” a plus side for Chrysler’s corporate dance partner. He was referring to their premium brands including Maserati and Alfa Romeo as well as Fiat’s components businesses. Another advantage for them, “we’re the biggest automaker in Brazil,” he said.

Marchionne is proud of the 2013 RAM 1500 pickup, which features a lot of advanced new features including an air suspension and an eight-speed automatic transmission. He said, “I think we have the best lineup of pickups on the market.”

And customers seem to be noticing because he said “we’re seeing very stable demand on the truck side.”