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Fiat’s latest results showed a reduction in losses in Europe in the fourth quarter, as it unveiled a greater emphasis on the recession-proof luxury market with a new Maserati model it hopes will poach customers from the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar.

Chief executive Sergio Marchionne said strong US sales – particular from Chrysler – more than compensated for weak performance in Europe.

He told reporters at the opening of a new Maserati plant: “We are determined to use all our Italian factories to produce vehicles destined for the global market. And the cars made here in Turin are most important for us in launching a new business expansion into the luxury segment.”

Taking control of Chrysler has been the saving of Fiat, which previously was reliant on Europe, where mass-market carmakers are failing to convince recession-hit consumers to buy new vehicles.

Without Chrysler, Fiat would have posted a just over one billion euro loss for last year.

Marchionne said he plans to acquire the rest of Chrysler as soon as he can afford it.

Fiat now owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler. The rest of is owned by a retirees’ healthcare trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers trade union.

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