Bloomberg News

Chrysler Global Sales Trail CEO’s Target After 11% Gain in May

June 08, 2011

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker operated by Fiat SpA, said global automobile sales in May rose 11 percent from a year earlier, trailing the goal Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne set for 2011.

Global deliveries climbed to 160,144 last month, Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler said in an e-mail. Worldwide sales this year through May rose 17 percent to 714,403, trailing the 32 percent growth rate Marchionne targeted for this year.

A global economy reeling from Japan’s record earthquake in March and political turmoil in the Middle East may have slowed Chrysler’s growth from its plan at the start of the year, Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive, said today in an interview.

“Forecasts that were put out at the beginning of the year were really based on an economy that was expected to improve more than it has not only in the U.S. but on a global basis,” said Lindland, who’s based in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Marchionne yesterday named Reid Bigland head of U.S. sales and the Dodge brand. He takes on the new duties in addition to his previous role as head of Chrysler’s Canada operations.

Marchionne is pushing Chrysler to sell 2 million vehicles this year and turn its first annual net profit since emerging from bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.

“I think we’re going to sell 2 million cars this year,” Marchionne told reporters last week while visiting a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio. “That’s what I want to sell.”

While Marchionne said he isn’t sure if the market will strengthen in June, he said industry sales may improve in the following months.

Marchionne ‘Magic’

“You can never rule out Marchionne meeting his goals because he manages to pull off magic every day it seems,” Lindland said. “But that’s definitely going to be a challenge. He’s not getting any help from outside influences.”

Sales outside of North America rose 17 percent to 14,566 in May, Ralph Kisiel, a Chrysler spokesman, said in an e-mail yesterday. That’s faster than the 8.7 percent gain in non-North America sales the company posted in April.

Sales in Canada rose 17 percent last month to 24,406 while deliveries in Mexico fell 7.3 percent to 5,809, he said. The company previously reported U.S. sales rose 10 percent to 115,363 in May.

--Editors: Kevin Orland, Jamie Butters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Higgins in Southfield, Michigan at thiggins21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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