Chrysler to Assign 70 People to Detroit Office, CEO Says

Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, is leasing offices in downtown Detroit and will assign about 70 workers there, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said today.

Sales and marketing employees for the Great Lakes region and some other workers will relocate in this year’s second half, according to a statement by Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler. Detroit’s Dime Building will be renamed Chrysler House, said Marchionne, who will have an office there. Chrysler is leasing about 33,000 square feet (3,066 square meters) of space, occupying the top two floors of the 23-story building.

“Chrysler knows the reality of being an underdog, and that helps us relate to the city’s revitalization efforts,” Marchionne said today at a press conference in the building lobby. “When we look at the people of Detroit, we see the same kind of resilience and commitment, the same refusal to accept defeat.”

Chrysler’s U.S. deliveries of cars and light trucks surged 39 percent this year through March from a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. The company’s Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, which builds Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango sport-utility vehicles, will skip its usual two-week mid-year shutdown because of strong demand, Marchionne said today.

SUV Production

The factory also will accelerate the addition of 1,100 jobs and a third crew of workers by adding them in November, pulling ahead plans for increasing production in early 2013, he said.

Chrysler’s first-quarter sales increased 25 percent to $16.4 billion as the company tapped into Detroit’s comeback with a Super Bowl television ad featuring actor and director Clint Eastwood. The company debuted its “Imported from Detroit” marketing theme with a commercial during the game one year earlier that featured rapper Eminem.

Chrysler has forecast that net income will rise to about $1.5 billion this year, buoying results for Turin, Italy-based majority owner Fiat as Europe’s debt crisis depresses sales in its home region.

Marchionne, 59, is CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat and plans to merge the two companies and boost sales to more than 100 billion euros ($132 billion) by 2014. He has said no decision has been made on where the combined company will be based.

Fiat boosted its ownership stake of Chrysler to 58.5 percent in January. Marchionne reiterated last week that the company is unlikely to do an initial public offering this year.

Chrysler’s first-quarter net income more than quadrupled to $473 million from $116 million a year earlier, according to an April 26 statement. The results were Chrysler’s best since 1998’s third quarter, according to company. It didn’t report results from late 1998 to 2007, when Daimler AG owned Chrysler, or when Cerberus Capital Management LP controlled it through mid-2009.

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