This is the time of year when auto industry execs get out their crystal balls and give us their view of how the coming year will unfold. This year, if you're in Italy or Korea, the future looks pretty bright.
Reuters is reporting today that both Hyundai and Fiat are bullish about 2006, with Hyundai forecasting a 6.3 percent increase in operating profit this year, and Fiat looking to turn the corner into profitability.

Hyundai's upbeat profit picture is expected to be driven by a strong domestic auto market and booming overseas sales. (U.S. market sales volume is expected to increase 16.9 percent.) With a strong currency hurting export profits, Hyundai is pushing more production to overseas plants in the U.S., China, India, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Fiat's forecast is more straightforward. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive for the struggling automaker, told Reuters today at the North American International Auto Show, "We will make money in 2006. It is that simple."


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