Chrysler CEO: The objective of $3 billion profit is close at hand image

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne reiterated today that Chrysler is on its way to hit the $3 billion mark in operating profit in 2012 after having already achieved more than half of its sales target for the year.

“I checked the numbers this morning and we’ve already sold 1.23 million [vehicles],” Sergio Marchionne, who is also chief executive of Fiat SpA , told reporters at a product launch hosted by the Italian automaker in this northwestern Italian city.

“Chrysler sold 1.23 million cars in the first half, which is over half of our target,” Marchionne said at a press conference. “The objective of $3 billion is close at hand. We could overshoot it.”

Chrysler, which is a unit of Italy’s Fiat SpA said Tuesday its U.S. sales rose 20% to 144,811 for its best June results since 2007. It’s the car maker’s 27th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.
Among the highlights, the Jeep Wrangler set a June sales record of 14,461, up 28%.

Chrysler has added jobs and production in the U.S., including a third shift at its Belvidere, Ill., plant, where it is building its new Dart compact.

Fiat moved to increase its hold on Chrysler earlier on Tuesday , announcing it exercised an option in the coming weeks to buy an additional 3.3 percent from the United Auto Workers’ retiree health-care trust, or VEBA.

Fiat, which did not provide the purchase price today, will pay less than 200 million euros ($252 million) for the added holding, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said in an interview last month. Fiat will have paid in the end about $2.3 billion for its stake in the American carmaker.

Fiat has controlled the Auburn Hills automaker since Chrysler exited bankruptcy in June 2009 as part of a $12.5 billion government bailout.