Chrysler faces "crucial" 2010 with customers -CEO


STOCKHOLM, Jan 26 (Reuters) - This year is "crucial" for rebuilding consumer confidence in U.S. carmaker Chrysler, its chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, said on Tuesday, as rival Ford said its January U.S. sales were down on December.

"These things take time, but I think 2010 is the crucial year. We need to do most of that work (of restoring consumer confidence in Chrysler) in 2010," Marchionne, who also heads Italian car maker Fiat , said at an event.

Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy last June under the management control of Fiat, which took a 20 percent stake in exchange for the technology to build fuel-efficient cars.

Marchionne and his team at Chrysler spent a day in November explaining how they would revive the U.S. carmaker.

"We started last year a piece at a time rebuilding the component elements of the brand equity," Marchionne said on Tuesday.

"When the new product offerings come into the market place starting Q2, Q3, Q4 this year we will see a rebuilding of that equity in terms of actual sales," he added.

Chrysler has underperformed its U.S. rivals Ford and GM with 2009 sales down 35.9 percent, compared with a 30.1 percent drop at GM and a 15.4 percent decrease at Ford. (Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom in Stockholm; writing by Jo Winterbottom, editing by Will Waterman)



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