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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Fiat 500 Convert Bows At Geneva

Monday March 23rd, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Fiat 500

We had mentioned before that Fiat would debut a convertible version of its much-loved and too-cute new 500, so to follow up on that, here’s the report on the actual car. Officially, it’s called the 500 C and it pretty much exudes with personality. Although the coupe version was inspired by the original 500 from decades ago, there was no convertible version from back then, so Fiat started with a clean sheet of paper and they ended up with something more Targa-like than a true convertible. This unique top really differentiates the 500 C from its closest competition, the Mini Cooper Convertible, which is a much more traditional convertible design.

The 500 C seats four, although the rear seats are a bit tight, due to stowing the top. Naturally, you also give up some cargo room for the convertible setup but, overall, the convertible version is a lot like the coupe. The 500 C has a Targa-style canvas convertible roof, which means the car’s door pillars and area just above the side glass remains intact. This unique Targa setup is power operated and will be available in black, red and ivory.

Engine choices are either a 70 horsepower 1.2-liter or a 100 horsepower 1.4-liter. A more powerful Abarth edition is on its way and there are no plans to offer the 500 C with a diesel mill. All 500 C engines will come with start-stop technology, which will improve fuel economy by about 8 percent.

For some reason, England will get the 500 C first when it shows up in spring 2009, with European sales starting just in time for summer. U.S. sales remain up in the air, but Fiat’s alliance with Chrysler means the 500 C could turn up over here, and you know people would buy it. C’Mon Fiat, bring it.

Source: LeftLaneNews

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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:

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Fiat 500 Convertible Exposed

Wednesday February 25th, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Fiat 500 Cabrio

A-ha! So the rumors are true. Fiat’s answer to the BMW’s Mini, the Fiat 500 IS getting the drop top treatment, sort of. Although it doesn’t look like it is going to be a full convertible, more like a huge sun roof that drops all the way from the windshield header to the back deck, at least there will be a way to enjoy drop top motoring when the new little ride makes it here.

And oh yes, the Fiat 500 will be making it to these shores, courtesy of Fiat forking over many millions to partner with/help bail out the ailing Chrysler concern. And the 500 has already been mentioned as one of the cars Fiat will bring over. Ergo, they should also bring over the convertible version as well.

The new drop top will officially bow at the Geneva Motor Show, but we can report that the 500 looks back to Fiat’s Cinquecento of years past with a canvas top slides back to open up, yet leaves the outer portion of the roof intact helping maintain body rigidity. This design also means that the trunk maintains its top-up storage capacity.

We’re pleased at this move, and although there’s been no official word that this little guy is coming this way, Fiat would be stupid not to bring it.

Source: AutoBlogGreen

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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:

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