It was a big week for Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. At a national gathering of its dealers in Orlando, Florida, he offered a first look at 16 new and/or revised products that will become part of the U.S. Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Fiat lineup. But it was the 17th that generated the most intense reaction, when Marchionne revealed a concept version of the next-generation 2012 Dodge Viper, noting that it was made possible by "the incredible commitment in doing things I found at every level of the Chrysler organization." So far no words or teaser images have surfaced about the replacement for what had become an iconic American supercar. But the initial response was enthusiastic to say the least. The dealers also were shown several other exercises in possibility thinking, including a Jeep pickup truck spun from the Wrangler as well as reality-based hardware including a Fiat 500 EV that will be sold here as well as in Canada and Mexico. Also in the coming-soon pipeline are new eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions for rear- and front-drive products, respectively, that are due to arrive for 2012.
Speaking later in the week at the annual Fiat shareholders meeting in Turin, Italy, Marchionne said he anticipated that Chrysler Group LLC would hold an Initial Public Offering (IPO) sometime during the second half of 2011, although he made no further statement on specific timing. By starting North American production of the Fiat 500 by the end of this year, Fiat also opened the door to adding another five percent ownership position in Chrysler, which would bring its total to 25 percent. By meeting various future stipulations in the original contract, Fiat could potentially end up holding up to 35 percent of Chrysler's outstanding stock.