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Chrysler makes a profit but Fiat breaks even in 2011

Chrysler is on the mend.  

The Detroit automaker made money last year for the first time since 2005.

The profit -- $183 million -- was modest.  But it would have been much larger, were it not for the company's decision to pay off its federal loans years early.  The payoff resulted in a $500 million charge.

Chrysler also reported strong sales for January of this year, up 44 percent from the same month last year, driven largely by demand for the company’s passenger cars.  

The company expects 2012 to be up to eight times more profitable than 2011.

Full-year results for Chrysler’s partner Fiat were not as good.  

Car sales in Europe are dismal as the economy of the region struggles with a sovereign debt crisis. 

Fiat's Chairman John Elkann said earlier this week that the crisis is even bigger than the financial crisis that led to Chrysler's bankruptcy in 2009.

Fiat says it broke even last year if results from Chrysler are excluded.  

The Italian automaker now owns more than 58 percent of Chrysler.   The merger of the two is well underway, with the companies sharing car engines and platforms, engineering expertise, Board members and, of course, a CEO, Sergio Marchionne.

Ford Motor Company announced its 2011 earnings last week.  The company made about $8.8 billion, before taxes.

General Motors is expected to release its results for 2011 on February 16th.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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