The fear among Chrysler employees that the company's isn't going to survive is gone, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told "60 Minutes" in a story that aired on the influential television newsmagazine Sunday.
"I remember when I came here, in 2009, there's not a thing worse for a leader than to see fear in people's faces," Marchionne told reporter Steve Kroft. "It's been a long, rocky road; but the fear has gone."
Kroft interviewed Marchionne in Auburn Hills and Turin, Italy, and traveled to Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant in February to see Marchionne announce 1,800 new jobs for the plant.
The "60 Minutes" story recounted how close Chrysler was to collapse in 2009 before Marchionne negotiated a controlling stake for Italian automaker Fiat.
It also took a look at the hectic, workaholic schedule kept by Marchionne -- who flies back and forth between Italy and Auburn Hills to manage the two automakers -- and touches on the Republican reaction to the Super Bowl commercial featuring Clint Eastwood.
In Italy, Marchionne is required by the government to travel in bullet-proof cars and is always surrounded by state security, according to Kroft. And to manage Fiat, Fiat Industrial and Chrysler, Marchionne carries five phones. Typically, Marchionne goes to bed at 10 p.m. and wakes up 3:30 a.m. so he can discuss business in Italy as the day is ending there.
In February, Chrysler's "It's Halftime in America," Super Bowl commercial was criticized by some Republicans who thought Eastwood was endorsing U.S. President Barack Obama and the federal assistance provided to the U.S. auto industry.
"I thought that the Republicans' reactions to this was-- was unnecessary and out of place," Marchionne told Kroft.
But the larger theme of the "60 Minutes" story was Chrysler's improbable turnaround. In 2011, Chrysler earned a profit of $183 million -- its first since 2005. Now, Chrysler is gaining market share in the U.S. and Fiat is struggleing. Fiat would have lost money last year without Chrysler's improving performance and profits.
Marchionne's biggest concern today?
"That we're gonna slip on execution, we're gonna get something wrong, big," Marchionne told 60 Minutes.
"Can you afford that?" Kroft asks.
"One car, yes....twelve months ago, it would have been a-- it would have been a disaster."
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