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Fiat boss will fix Australian problems

Sergio Marchionne, the head of both Fiat and Chrysler Group.

The Koreans starred, the Japanese mounted a comeback, and One Ford hit the headlines with an extended family of Focus-based newcomers that it is certain to make a big hit in Australia. But it was one car and the commitment of its company chief that made the most impact as America fought back on the opening day of the 2011 North American International Motor Show.

The worldwide head of the Italian company, which also controls Chrysler in the USA, admits Australia has suffered in the past but promises immediate action on a range of fronts as well as a longer-term commitment to right-hand drive vehicles. 

It could even include a change of representation for Fiat. "I think we have to be careful that we come up with an economically viable answer for Australia".

"We need to make money out of selling cars in Australia to be perfectly honest," says Sergio Marchionne, the head of both Fiat and Chrysler Group. 

"I think we have had relative success in some of our ventures. I know the Fiat side has struggled for a while with this and we are in the process of cleaning up our act in Australia and come up with a unified view of the work to do. 

"The fact we have created the Asia-Pacific region with a CEO, Mike Manley, who is running it is now giving the proper focus to Australia.

Unfortunately Australia has always been the orphan child. It was the stuff that we dealt with whenever we cleaned up something else and never got a lot of attention."