DETROIT — Chrysler’s almost total reliance on North America used to be a huge weakness, one that sent the company into bankruptcy protection.
Now it’s a major strength. The region is generating profits for the company while losses in Europe and slowing sales in South America and China are drains on other carmakers.
Chrysler, which sells almost 90 percent of its cars and trucks in the United States and Canada, made a $436 million profit in the second quarter. It was a huge turnaround from a year earlier, when the company lost $370 million, mainly because it refinanced government bailout loans.
The automaker, now majority owned by Italy’s Fiat SpA, also backed an earlier profit forecast of about $1.5 billion for the year.
Chrysler has emerged from bankruptcy protection with far lower costs, and it has saved money by using Fiat parts and expertise to engineer new models.
The company also is making money on minivans and Ram pickups, said Joe Phillippi, a former Wall Street analyst who is now president of AutoTrends Consulting in Short Hills, N.J.
Chrysler is giving a conservative full-year profit outlook because it has big manufacturing and advertising costs from launching the new Dodge Dart compact car and a revamped Ram pickup truck, Phillippi said. But Sergio Marchionne, chief executive, also is being cautious because of a slowing US economy, he said.