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Fiat Chrysler Layoffs Highlight Conflict of Consumers and Federal Energy Policy

The cancellation of a production shift and layoff of 1,420 workers building Chrysler 200 sedans in Sterling Heights, Mich., illustrates the ways in which consumer preference and market forces conflict with U.S. government energy policy.

Amid generally strong demand and rising prices for new vehicles, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU - Get Report) announced the move on Wednesday. The decision foreshadows a previously announced plan eventually to phase out Chrysler 200 and another smaller car, the Dodge Dart, altogether.

Sergio Marchionne, FCA's CEO, said he's interested in partnering with another manufacturer that could take over production of the two models or variants.

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"We will be continuing discussions with potential partners that will be able to allow us to access that architecture and effectively provide us the product from their facilities that would allow us to continue to cover the market," he told Automotive News in February.

In other words, Marchionne can't stop selling small...