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Fiat, Chrysler CEO says Detroit-area car plant to shut 30 days

Italian car maker Fiat's Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne speaks during the Maserati new opening plant in Turin, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN/DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler and Fiat SpA (MIL:F) Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday the Sterling Heights, Michigan, car assembly plant will be shut for 30 days to prepare the Detroit-area plant for production of the new version of the midsize sedan Chrysler 200.

The new car, which is key to Chrysler's return as a viable competitor in the big U.S. midsize sedan market, will begin selling near the end of the first quarter, Marchionne said.

Marchionne also said Ram pickup truck production capacity can be increased by 15 percent to 20 percent without building a new plant. He said there are no plans to build another Ram truck plant in the United States or Mexico.

Marchionne made his comments during a conference call with industry analysts on full-year 2013 and fourth-quarter financial results.

Also on Wednesday, Fiat and Chrysler announced that a merged company will be called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Stefano Rebaudo in Milan and Bernie Woodall in Detroit)