DETROIT -- Just three years out of bankruptcy, Chrysler posted a $1.7 billion profit in 2012 and said it expects to earn more than $2 billion this year.
Improving U.S. auto sales -- and better products at Chrysler -- were the big reasons that last year's profit was nine times higher than the profit of $183 million in 2011. Chrysler's worldwide sales were up 18 percent to 2.2 million last year.
In the U.S., its largest market, Chrysler's sales were up 21 percent. Chrysler saw strong sales of the Chrysler 200 and 300 sedans, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ram pickup. The Fiat 500 also saw big gains last year.
The results mark another step in Chrysler's remarkable turnaround. The company filed for bankruptcy during the recession in 2009 and needed a $12.5 billion loan from taxpayers to survive. Chrysler has repaid $11.2 billion, but the U.S. Treasury Department says it won't recover the remaining $1.3 billion. The profit In 2011 was Chrysler's first annual profit since 1997.
Chrysler is now majority owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA. Fiat and Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne praised Chrysler's workers Wednesday but urged them to remain focused.
"While we are pleased to have achieved strong financial results in 2012, the enterprise we are crafting is not complete," Marchionne said in a statement.
Revenue increased 20 percent to $65.8 billion.
Chrysler expects its net income to rise to around $2.2 billion this year on revenue of between $72 billion and $75 billion. It says worldwide vehicle shipments should reach 2.6 million to 2.7 million, up from 2.4 million last year.