Marchionne created two small sensations in January by 1.) shaving off his beard and 2.) referring to the motors in Alfa Romeos as "wop engines." Small matters in the bigger picture. Tougher comparisons will make it harder for Chrysler to keep posting big year-over-year sales gains, while Marchionne is likely to be distracted by the leisurely restructuring of the auto industry in Europe. And then there's his on-again, off-again verbal jousting with Volkswagen.
A look at what's in store for the world's automakers this year will tell a lot about what to expect for cars down the road.