"In order to fund this rather ambitious product plan that they've set forth, they're seeking a market share of 14 percent in the U.S. by 2014. That's about twice what we and other forecasters are expecting from them. So there's kind of a rather significant disconnect from them."
Marchionne told newspaper reporters Tuesday that the company would achieve its goal of breaking even by selling 1.1. million new vehicles in 2010. Chrysler sold more than 931,000 vehicles last year.
There was a small sign of hope for the company, even though 2009 was the worst sales market for new vehicles in 27 years. Chrysler sales increased 36 percent from November to December.
One way Chrysler could boost sales this year is to offer large incentives and rebates. Marchionne has reportedly said he doesn't believe slashing prices to combat falling sales helps generate profits in the long term.
Among the technology Chrysler is showing off in its exhibit in Detroit this year, the Fiat 500 will reportedly have more than 5,000 lithium-ion battery cells and operate on a regenerative braking system that allows it to travel a total of 150 miles on a single charge. A television in cars is not new, but the idea of 20 channels of live programming is. FLO TV allows customers to get ESPN, Fox News, MSNBC, Comedy Central and more.
The first Fiat brand car to be sold at Chrysler dealerships will be a gasoline version of the Fiat 500. But no other cars are headed to the U.S. this year, so the company will have to continue pushing it's struggling brands.
"I think that Fiat has every intent to save Chrysler and to turn Chrysler into a profitable enterprise, but competition in this industry is extremely aggressive right now," said Wolkonowicz. "It's going to be an uphill fight."