Fiat & Chrysler: A Match or a Mistake?

Thursday May 28th, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: m35man

Fiat Chrysler

The future for Chrysler LLC remains unknown after a hearing to sell its assets to a group headed by Fiat SpA ended late Wednesday evening without resolution.

During testimony in a packed Manhattan courtroom Wednesday, the value of the Auburn Hills automaker was central to arguments heard in U.S. bankruptcy court here. Lawyers for Chrysler said the sale of the assets was critical to the company’s future and that without approval by June 15, it would result in the liquidation of the company.

How will this play out? Will Fiat get what it wants? I believe they will, primarily because they seem to be the only company willing to take on Chrysler. Sure, Fiat will end up getting a lot of concessions. But, that’s what you get when you’re buying a ticket on the Titanic. If Fiat is willing to take on this problem child, they deserve some major breaks, the way I see it.

The hearing was to continue today before Judge Arthur Gonzalez. If he approves the sale of the assets, the new company, Chrysler Group LLC, will prepare to start operations to build and sell Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles as soon as possible.

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Fiat Adds 6 CNG Models To Line Up

Wednesday May 13th, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Fiat Punto

Fiat, Italian auto giant who seems to be slowly absorbing every small-fish automaker they can find seems to be gearing up for building more models fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). Normally, this wouldn’t make too much of a difference to us over here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. but with Fiat soon to be marching down the aisle with Chrysler, it’s worth paying attention to. CNG is mainly used in fleet vehicles in America. Lots of taxis, lots of cop cars, lots of delivery trucks run on CNG. There has been talk (mainly from oil company shills) that it would better from an infrastructure standpoint to offer more CNG fueling points, than to screw around with stuff like EV charging stations or working on hydrogen fueling. If there were to be more CNG filling stations, that would leave Fiat, and therefore Chrysler, sitting pretty.

In some parts of Europe, CNG is a popular fuel for several automakers. There are already CNG versions of the Grande Punto, Panda, Punto, as well as the Multipla and Doblò available from Fiat, and the Punto and Panda are both expected to form the basis of new small cars for Chrysler.

It’s not that CNG is without its merits. Compressed natural gas offers some advantages over gasoline and diesel as a fuel. It has lower CO2 emissions and emits practically no particulates.

More options are always better.

Source: AutoBlogGreen

Photo from Flickr user Familie Gevaerts

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The Italians Come to the Rescue!

Friday May 8th, 2009 at 11:55 AM
Posted by: m35man

Fiat Chrysler

Let’s hear that old Spaghetti Western theme music. You know, from those Clint Eastwood films like “Hang ‘Em High” and “For A Few Dollars More”. Because the Italians are coming to the rescue, in the form of automaker Fiat–here to save the day for Chrysler!

It was announced today that Fiat SpA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne plans to run Chrysler LLC after the Auburn Hills automaker emerges from bankruptcy, a company source confirmed.  Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli said that he would step down.

Marchionne has discussed his plan to take over as Chrysler CEO with officials from the U.S. Treasury, which will have the biggest presence, at least initially, on the board of a new company comprising Chrysler assets.

Marchionne, who became Fiat’s chief executive in 2004 and returned the struggling Italian automaker to profit, wants to combine Fiat’s auto business and its prospective interest in Chrysler with GM Europe’s operations, which include the Opel, Vauxhall and Saab brands.

GM declined to comment on the negotiations with Fiat.

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Moms Speak Out About Safest Cars

Thursday May 7th, 2009 at 7:55 AM
Posted by: m35man

In honor of Mother’s Day (it’s this Sunday, so don’t forget people) I thought I’d do a mom-related car posting. In my search, I found a great Web site called Let’s face it, mothers do a lot of driving. A group of women on take a look at the vehicles, road-test them for two weeks at a time, and then evaluate them based on performance and values. It’s a great idea. Who knows more about car safety than mothers do?

“We load the kids in, test out the latch connectors and the car seats, and the cargo space, and to really ensure that the car that we’re driving would really be a perfect vehicle for the people who visit our website,” said Sara Lacey, a mom-reviewer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chevrolet, Chrysler, hybrid, Hyundai, Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, || No Comments »

Chrysler Plant Closings Mean End Of Viper

Tuesday May 5th, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Well, that’s that then. Chrysler’s troubles, which are hopefully being resolved, have, in the meantime, meant mass plant closings and temporary idling for many workers. Another casualty, it would seem, would be the Viper, Chrysler’s impressive sports car.

The Viper has been the only American car to seriously challenge the Corvette for sports car supremacy. Indeed, in the history of American car manufacturing, this country has been woefully underrepresented in the sports car world. Besides the Vette and the Viper, there have been precious few American sports cars. Sure, there have been sporty cars, things like early T-Birds and the Kaiser Darrin, and an argument could be made for the first Cobras, but those were basically an English chassis with an American V8 crammed under the bonnet, not exactly a home grown sports car. It would seem that collectively we decided to leave high performance two seaters to the Europeans (and later the Japanese) and more’s the pity because of it.

Chrysler has made noises about selling the Viper line to any other carmaker that is interested, but so far, nobody has popped up. Chrysler was planning to end Viper production before 2011, so it’s not like this sad news comes as a total surprise, it’s just a little sooner than we thought the end would come.

Source: LeftLaneNews

Photo from Flickr user ANATOLI AXELROD

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VW Routan Minivan Reportedly Canceled

Wednesday April 29th, 2009 at 9:44 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Here’s some news that’s not all that surprising, Volkswagen’s Routan minivan, essentially a rebadged Chrysler minivan, is on the chopping block. You could pretty much see this coming from a mile away, almost before the Routan was rolled out. Rather than design and build their own minivan (a class of car that VW invented with the Type II way back when) VW decided that a better route was to take Dodge’s Caravan, change the trim here & there, add a VW badge and give it an Euro-sounding name. The Routan was built alongside its Chrysler Corp. counterparts at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario, plant until last December, when VW asked Chrysler to stop production. Apparently, not a single Routan has rolled off the assembly line since, and there are no immediate plans to resume production according to sources.

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Viva Italia! Will Fiat Save the Day for Chrysler?

Monday March 9th, 2009 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: m35man

Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat SpA told the White House auto task force last week that the Italian automaker could help Chrysler LLC recover and repay the billions it is borrowing from the government.

Like the old Spaghetti Westerns of the ‘60s (many starring Clint Eastwood) the Italians ride in to save the day! Hooray! Bravo! American shortsightedness got Chrysler into this mess, and Italian ingenuity is going to get them out of it. It IS a small world after all!

I’m half Italian, so I’m biased, but I have to believe that this is a great move for Chrysler or they wouldn’t be doing it. It’s good news for bloggers too. With so many negative stories out there in the automotive news world right now, this is a positive note.

It’s also a very smart move by Fiat. They won’t have to pay a single dime out of pocket, while attaining 35% of Chrysler. What they will bring to the table is their cutting-edge technology, wise business practices (and hopefully a nice bottle of Chianti and a little antipasti).

One thing you have to say about the opportunistic Italians is that they’re smart. You notice they’re not trying to help GM, are they? (How do you say “bankruptcy” in Italian?) They see something in Chrysler that they believe will lead to the carmaker’s eventual recovery and long-term success. And that’s very good news.

Read the story that appeared in the Detroit News after the jump:

(Continued on page 2)

page 1 page 2

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Dodge Hornet May Still Be Alive

Tuesday February 3rd, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Dodge Hornet conceptHey, remember the Dodge Hornet? It was this smallish, hot-hatch design that Chrysler said was going to be a serious player in the small car/fun to drive category?

Yeah, that guy. Anyway, when the financial stuff hit the fan a few months back, and Chrysler went from looking shaky to bad to worse, the Dodge Hornet was mentioned as being one of the programs destined for the “never-was” file.

Well, turns out that all is not lost, and the Hornet might be back on the production schedule.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chrysler, Dodge, Nissan, Press and News |Tags:, || 2 Comments »

7 Fiats headed to the U.S.

Wednesday January 28th, 2009 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Fiat 500On the heals of the Fiat/Chrysler quasi-merger, word is out about which products will be coming to the U.S.

According to Automotive News, the companies will bring seven new vehicles to the U.S. market. Four wearing badges from a division of Chrysler, and three as Fiats or Alfa-Romeos. The vehicles will be built in North American Chrysler plants and sold through Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers.

Here’s what Chrysler gets:

The A-Class: the successful 500 mini-car.

The B-Class: the wide-eyed subcompact from Alfa-Romeo, called the MiTo.

The C-class/D-class: Two vehicles from Fiat’s up coming C-Evo platform. One is a possible replacement for the unloved Dodge Avenger/Chrysler Sebring duo and also the next generation of the Alf-Romeo 147 hatchback.

At the moment, this is still largely speculation. The FEC has to approve the deal, and there’s always safety and emissions hoops to jump through, but nothing here seems to be too fanciful or out of line. So, pretty soon, we could see some fun and interesting cars from Italy in Chrysler showrooms.

Source: Edmunds

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Fiat says "buono giorno" to Chrsyler

Thursday January 22nd, 2009 at 4:11 PM
Posted by: m35man

Fiat badgeFiat is purchasing a 35% stake in Chrysler as its private equity owner Cerberus attempts to save the troubled US car manufacturer. The Italians are stepping up to help because they see great potential in Chrysler and believe that the United States car market will rebound. Maybe some of the Italian magic will rub off on Chrysler and help them get back to the coveted position they inhabited for so long.

It’s a win-win situation for both companies. Fiat has been chomping at the bit to expand into U.S. markets more aggressively and Chrysler covets Fiat’s production expertise and high-tech innovative approach. Fiat will direct Chrysler on how to make smaller, greener vehicles and Chrysler will learn how to cut costs in manufacturing. At least that’s the idea. Hopefully in the end, President Obama will also be more receptive to the idea of helping the carmaker out, knowing that they’re now partially owned and partnering with a respected name like Fiat.

The Italians have long been fans of the United States and have given us many great things—including gelato, panini sandwiches, carpaccio and the actress Sophia Loren — not to mention Lamborghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lancia – all owned by the aforementioned Fiat, by the way. Fiat is a smart company. This is not a Mother Teresa charity gesture by any means. The Italian carmaker is banking on a Chrysler comeback and it’s all about the money, no doubt.

I know several parts managers at Chrysler dealerships, and they’re ecstatic about the acquisition. “We need some good news right about now,” said an unnamed source. “This is good for the company, but one of the best things is that it will give Chrysler employees a little more faith and confidence. We’ve been around a long time and this is an indication we’re not going anywhere.

Article originally posted in the Wall Street Journal after the jump:

page 1 page 2

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