Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne gave the audience at the Automotive News World Congress a display of his wit and wisdom. Some excerpts:
-- "Our industry has destroyed billions of dollars in value, and we have been at that task year after year. The financial crisis that peaked in the last 12 months did not cause the problems we face. It unmasked them -- laid them bare -- and deprived us of any pretense for denial."
On his trademark black sweaters:
-- "I buy them in dozens. I buy all these on the Internet. They come a dozen at a time."
-- The auto industry has "consolidated brands and consolidated companies and consolidated the consolidations." The push for ever-larger size "made automakers into rambling ranch houses onto which one room after another was added, with no rational architecture uniting the whole."
On whether it would be acceptable for Chrysler employees to wear black sweaters, too:
-- There are "colors other than black. Yellow is fine. Exact emulation may not be advisable."
-- "If only temporarily, a rising tide lifts sinking boats, too. And if it deludes their captains into believing their vessels are seaworthy, a rising sea can be even more dangerous than a raging storm."
On the French government pressing Renault to build the next-generation Clio in France rather than in Turkey as rumored:
-- "The minute we get that kind of interference [from government] is the day we should give up the keys to the car."