With Chrysler’s new parent Fiat making the hard and fast decisions, the automaker is now on track to return to profitability and the first signs of progress are already showing. Chrysler announced today that it made an operating profit of $143 million in the first three months of 2010, helped by last year's severe cost-cutting and sales of the new Ram Heavy Duty pickup trucks.

Note that this is operating profit, so when you factor in things like interest and taxes, Chrysler is still left with a net loss of $197 million. Still, it's an indication that Detroit's smallest and weakest automaker is within spitting distance of returning to full profitability and remaining viable. That loss compares to a staggering loss of $3.8 billion since Chrysler declared bankruptcy last June 10. More importantly, it also looks like the struggling automaker will also be able to repay its loans to the government.

Even with the still-floundering U.S. economy and fluctuating exchange rates, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is confident Chrysler will be able to stay profitable over the next two years. We would be too considering Chrysler is planning to launch 16 new or refreshed products this year starting with the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, followed by the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, E-CUV, iconic Fiat 500, and the Sebring replacement.