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by Tim Beissmann

In a world overflowing with public relations and corporate spin, it was refreshing this week to hear two automotive CEOs speaking from the heart about their vehicles.

Fiat and Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, was about as candid as anyone can be when talking to reporters about a number of the vehicles in his corporation’s current stable.

Most critical were his comments on the seven-seat Jeep Commander, which was sold in Australia for a brief period before production ceased in 2010.

“That car was unfit for human consumption,” Mr Marchionne said, as reported by Automotive News.

“We sold some, but I don’t know why people bought them.”

He also admitted the Dodge Nitro, currently on sale in Australia, “needs to be replaced”, and referred to that section of the market as “the most significant hole in our product portfolio”.

Inside Line also reported that Mr Marchionne was not a great fan of the latest Dodge Durango, admitting: “If I had been here, the Durango would have been a [Jeep] Grand Wagoneer”.

He confirmed that all future Jeep products would be ‘Trail Rated’ – the brand’s highest level of off-road capability – and stated: “I can’t have a Mickey Mouse Jeep”.

Meanwhile, Dodge CEO, Ralph Gilles, had his own honest admissions about the upcoming Dodge Viper.

When asked what the new supercar’s designers had on their minds when creating the Viper, Mr Gilles replied: “A naked woman on the beach and much more accessible”.

Set to be released next year as a 2013 model year vehicle, Mr Gilles denied rumours that it would be powered by a Ferrari-sourced engine, but did confirm that a small number would be made available to European customers.




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