Fiat-Chrysler CEO says Alfa Romeo needs a "wop engine"

Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:59pm EST

Fiat-Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne makes his speech during the visit of Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti at the Fiat car factory in the southern city of Melfi December 20, 2012.REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Fiat-Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne makes his speech during the visit of Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti at the Fiat car factory in the southern city of Melfi December 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ciro De Luca

(Advisory: The story contains language in the headline and paragraphs one and five that may be offensive to some readers)

DETROIT (Reuters) - Fiat's new generation of Alfa Romeo high-performance sedans will have a feature that is uniquely described by its CEO - a "wop engine."

That is the characterization of the upcoming cars by the outspoken Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat-Chrysler boss who has dual Italian-Canadian citizenship. Marchionne spoke at the Detroit auto show on Monday.

The perennially delayed U.S. relaunch of the hotly awaited iconic racing brand has raised eyebrows and put Marchionne's credibility on the line to execute it perfectly.

He will not start selling Alfas in the United States until the car is perfect, he said on Monday. Fiat has said some of the car's parts will be made in United States and other parts in Italy but has not specified what will be made where.

"I cannot come up with a schlock product, I just won't," Marchionne told a room of journalists at the car show. "I won't put an American engine into that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine."

"There are some things that are well-done in Italy."

After reporters registered evident surprise at his use of an ethnic slur, Marchionne turned to one of them and asked, "Why are you surprised?"

Marchionne has a penchant for using colorful language that has occasionally landed him in hot water.

In February 4, 2011, he caused a minor uproar by saying, "I want to repay the shyster loans," referring to the high-interest rates on money lent to the company in 2009 by U.S. taxpayers as part of the Chrysler's bankruptcy. The next day, he apologized for that remark.

Chrysler has fully repaid the U.S. Treasury for the loans.

(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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