The CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, made a brief stop in Austin Monday. He came to honor the local Fiat dealership's staff for selling the most '500' car models in all of North America.
The Italian-born Canadian automaker spoke to a crowd about the resilience of Austin's economy, which entices him to expand his distribution here.
When it comes to Chrysler, Marchionne said he's expecting to hit target sale figures in the U.S. once again this year. He also said the group will be reopening dealerships in Texas, including three in the Dallas area alone.
Marchionne relied on bailout money in 2008 to turn the group around. During his appearance on Monday, he talked about the state of the market, both here and abroad.
“I continue to be somewhat concerned and somewhat reluctant to engage in expansion in Europe, but I have not slowed one single dollar of spending in the United States, as a matter of fact, I’ve probably accelerated it,” he said.
Despite the undeniable success of the Italian-born Canadian, Marchionne says he's staying out of politics this year.
“All those things are behind us. Life has moved on,” he said. "I think it would be incredibly improper, to be perfectly honest, for me to comment because I’m not an American.”
Marchionne also said Japanese automakers reentered the market at full capacity last month, after more than one year of recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The CEO said you can expect to see him back in Austin for the first Formula 1 race this fall.