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Auto Sales Up, So Is CEO Enthusiasm

Monday, 9 Jan 2012 | 12:21 PM ET

Is the U.S. auto industry back in the driver's seat? Many executives of the biggest car makers seem to think so. Here is a roundup of the comments some of them made to CNBC Monday from the Detroit Auto Show.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

Chrysler CEO: Auto Industry Extremely Competitive
"We are all pushing," says Sergio Marchionne, Fiat & Chrysler CEO, "it's a great environment to be in." Marchionne says the auto industry is extremely competitive right now and automakers understand they need to "make a buck to make a next car or else the next car ain't coming."

“This is a different world, a throwback to the 1990s. You're looking at a completely different industry after the big bang, so to speak. We're all pushing. It's a great environment to be in. I don't think anyone has any illusions to being a boy scout here. It is a fight. That's the great thing about competition, it keeps you sharp.”

Nissan Renault CEO Carlos Ghosen

Carlos Ghosn on Nissan Sales
Nissan had a rough 2011 with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as flooding in Thailand -- all had a severe impact on production. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor CEO, discusses sales in 2011 and his outlook for 2012.

“I stick to my forecast: 10 percent of industry sales by 2020 being electric. The problem is not demand. It's not going to be a good year in Europe [but it's] not going to be the disaster people are seeing. I don't think Armageddon is going to happen in Europe next year.”

Porsche Cars North America CEO Detlev von Platen

Porsche Sales on Speed
Porsche sales were up over 14% above the industry average in 2011, with Detlev Von Platen, Porsche Cars N.A. CEO, and CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

“I think the market is improving. We can feel this in our showrooms with much more traffic, much more people coming to us. But what's very important is also having new products.”

Toyota USA President Jim Lentz

Toyota President Shares 2012 Outlook
Discussing whether Toyota can regain sales momentum in 2012 following a tumultuous year in 2011 when the tsnuami in Japan offset production, with Jim Lentz, Toyota U.S.A. president, and CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

“Will gas get over $4 a gallon? I think so. It obviously helps Prius but we're ready to react to whatever direction gas takes us.”

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally's Outlook
Ford's new model, Fusion Key will increase the company's market share, Ford Motor CEO Alana Mulally tells CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

“The most important thing from the consumer point of view, they have the power of choice [on fueling options]. From Ford's point of view...we can match the production to real demand. We anticipate that Ford will grow...from 5.3 million vehicles [sold] to around 8 [million].”

John Krafcik, acting CEO, Hyundai North America

Hyundai's Next Leg of Growth
Insight on the automaker's peak sales mark and plans to open a plant in Brazil this year, with John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America CEO, and CNBC's Phil LeBeau.

“[The auto industry] should not be comfortable. I worry about this industry going back to its old ways and getting out the celebration flag a little too early. We need to be very, very cautious. The economy in 2012 is really a big question mark...A safer approach would be to go into 2012 with a little more conservative scenario.”

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