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Chrysler reports strongest quarter in 13 years

Chrysler put its dark days further behind it Thursday, reporting its strongest quarterly results in 13 years.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker said its net income more than quadrupled in the first quarter of 2012, rising to $473 million as U.S. sales soared.

U.S. market share increased to 11.2 percent for the first quarter, up from 9.2 percent a year ago, driven primarily by a 40 percent increase in U.S. retail sales, Chrysler said. For the first time in its history, Chrysler was the quarterly market leader in Canada with a share of 15 percent, the automaker said.

“We continue to deliver on the targets in our five-year plan and are now focused on successfully launching the Dodge Dart, a car that is a true melding of Chrysler’s and Fiat’s engineering and styling strengths,” Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The new Dodge Dart will be Chrysler’s first good compact car for decades, and the automaker is set to release an updated version of its top-selling Ram pickup truck.

Chrysler, now controlled by Italian auto company Fiat, came close to bankruptcy when it ran out of money at the end of 2008 after a series of business missteps. The carmaker needed $12.5 billion from U.S. taxpayers to survive.

Of the original Chrysler bailout, $11.2 billion has been repaid, and the U.S. Treasury Department says it won't recover the remaining $1.3 billion, the AP reported.

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