The plan: 7 Fiat vehicles / Critics: Fiat getting free ride / The wrinkle: Finding funds

This was from a cached google search results. The actual pages are not available unless you pay for it.
Who knows if any of this content is still accurate (it's 2-3 months
old). We already know the Fiat stake in Chrysler has fallen from the proposed 35% to 20%.
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The plan: 7 Fiat vehicles for U.S.
From mid-sized to micro, Chrysler can plug holes
Bradford Wernle Automotive News January 26, 2009 - 12:01 am ET
Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A. will bring seven new vehicles to North America under their alliance four with Chrysler brands and three as Fiats or Alfa Romeos.
The vehicles will be built at Chrysler plants in North America and sold through select Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships, according to sources who have seen the product-sharing agreement.
The plan includes vehicles on four Fiat platforms in the microcar, or A, through the mid-sized, or D, segments. The two companies have not decided on timing or volumes. Teams at both companies are hammering out details of a plan they hope to make final by April 30.
The two companies said last week that Fiat would take a 35 percent stake in Chrysler. Under terms of their tentative agreement, Chrysler will make the Fiat 500 at Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico, plant for sale in North America, according to sources familiar with the plans.
Chrysler will retool the Toluca factory, where it currently makes the Dodge Journey crossover and Chrysler PT Cruiser. Chrysler announced last week that it would quit making the PT Cruiser this summer and put the line up for sale, making room for another vehicle.
Speaking with reporters at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 21, Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president for product development, said teams from both companies were working on a plan.
Referring to Chrysler's current lineup, Klegon said, "We don't have an A-segment vehicle, and we don't have a B-segment vehicle, and our C-segment vehicle [Dodge Caliber] is in the next stage of renewal. That creates some opportunities for us."
Chrysler LLC dealers would get these Fiat vehicles
Minicars (A segment) Two small cars, the Fiat 500 retro 3-door hatchback and a 5-door hatchback based on a next-generation Fiat Panda. The latter likely will be sold as a Chrysler or Dodge.
Fiat 500: To be built in Mexico: http://tinyurl.com/dlwdau
Subcompact (B segment) Alfa Romeo MiTo, plus a vehicle for one of Chrysler's brands.
Fiat's Alfa Romeo MiTo: http://tinyurl.com/cxz4yk
Compact (C segment) A vehicle on Fiat's C-Evo platform made at a U.S. Chrysler plant, possibly a Dodge Caliber replacement. The alliance also would build the Alfa Romeo 147 replacement for U.S. sale on this platform.
Mid-sized (D segment) A replacement for the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger mid-sized sedans on a stretched version of the C-Evo platform Fiat is developing.
The Fiat deal, if made final, would provide a quick fix for Chrysler's small-car problem. The company needs a fleet of vehicles to meet new, stricter U.S. fuel economy standards, which take effect for the 2011 model year.
The agreement calls for two minicars in Europe's A segment, the Fiat 500 and one with a Chrysler or Dodge badge. A CSM Worldwide report says the 500 could be sold in the United States in 2012.
The five-door minicar could be based on the next-generation Fiat Panda, a small five-door hatchback that is the biggest-selling small car in Europe, where Fiat dominates the segment.
A Panda-style vehicle would give dealers a city car. The 500 is something else altogether a small, retro three-door that has Mini-style cachet without the Mini price. The 500 is Europe's second-best-selling minicar, trailing the Panda.
"The 500 is selling like hot cakes, even in this difficult economic environment," said Nigel Griffiths, an analyst for Global Insight in London. "It has been a runaway success."
Under the plan, Chrysler dealers also would get a subcompact, or B segment, Fiat, most likely derived from the next-generation Fiat Grande Punto. Dealers also will sell the Alfa Romeo MiTo, built on the same platform. The CSM Worldwide report says Chrysler could get a small crossover from this platform.
The alliance also would give Chrysler access to Fiat's 1.4- and 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline direct-injection engines. The engines would be made at a Chrysler engine factory, most likely in turbocharged versions. Chrysler's smallest engine now is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder made at the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee, Mich. CSM says the engines could be built in Dundee. A source familiar with Fiat plans says Chrysler may make only the 1.4-liter engine.
Path to a deal
October 2007 Fiat and Chrysler begin talks on possible areas of cooperation.
March 2008 Fiat Powertrain Technologies buys the Brazilian engine plant Tritec from Chrysler.
Spring/summer 2008 Fiat studies whether to buy a Chrysler plant in the United States to build Alfa Romeo cars and/or a Chrysler plant in Mexico to produce the Fiat 500 minicar.
September 2008 Chrysler approaches Fiat with a list of what's needed to turn Chrysler around.
Late November 2008 Fiat and Chrysler conceive a possible deal calling for Fiat to exchange technology for a stake in Chrysler. Deal would include distribution and purchasing cooperation.
Late December 2008 Fiat and Chrysler begin finalizing nonbinding agreement that would give Fiat a 35% stake.
Jan. 13, 2009 Nonbinding agreement is signed.
Jan. 20, 2009 Deal is announced.
March 31, 2009 Deadline to sign final agreement.
Mid-sized quest
Fiat also will supply Chrysler new platforms to develop cars in the compact and mid-sized, or C and D, segments glaring weaknesses in Chrysler's lineup.
In the compact, or C, segment, Chrysler offers the Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. In the mid-sized, or D, segment it has the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger and Journey.
In a report on the proposed alliance, Michael Robinet, CSM Worldwide vice president of global forecasting, said Chrysler is uncompetitive in the compact and mid-sized segments. "Fiat offers Chrysler the ability to field small/compact unibody offerings with stronger global scale and increased fuel efficiency," Robinet wrote.
Said Griffiths of Global Insight: "The potential opens up immediately with joining that with something like the Sebring platform, that size vehicle."
The C-Evo debuts at the end of this year in Europe on the Alfa Romeo project 940 car, which replaces the current 147. The C-Evo is a sporty hatchback stylistically inspired by the 8C Competitizione, a high-priced supercar sold through some Maserati dealerships in the United States.
Fiat hasn't decided which models it will build on the stretched C-Evo platform. A Chrysler mid-sized car could be the first application.
In 2007, Chrysler formed a team, called Project D, to explore possibilities for replacing the Sebring and Avenger. The team was disbanded in September, and CEO Bob Nardelli said Chrysler had moved the project down its list of priorities in the face of the credit crisis and the request for federal funds.
Fiat may distribute the Journey cross-over and the Dodge Dakota pickup in Latin America and other markets, say sources familiar with the plan.
Fiat's benefits may be more on the manufacturing and distribution sides of the deal. Fiat would gain cheap access to the North American market, where it hasn't played since 1995, when Alfa Romeo withdrew.
Fiat also could fill a gap in its engine lineup with a V-6 from Chrysler's Phoenix family of engines due next year.
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Critics: Fiat is getting a free ride
Harry Stoffer Automotive News February 18, 2009 - 12:01 am ET
WASHINGTON Chrysler is feeling some pushback from Democrats, not just Southern Republicans on its plan to take U.S. government loans and team up with Italian automaker Fiat S.p.A.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in a letter to President Barack Obama late last week, suggested that Chrysler be forced to give back loan money if a "foreign" company gets control of the automaker.
Earlier, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., questioned Obama's treasury secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, on how Fiat could get a substantial Chrysler stake without putting up any money, especially after U.S. taxpayers are heavily invested.
Chrysler understands that public officials are going to have questions, and it is eager to provide answers, said a company source, insisting on anonymity.
The company has been consistent since it first sought emergency federal loans in November, saying it would need the money, as well as partnerships and alliances, to become healthy again, the source added.
Chrysler has received $4 billion in loans so far and seeks $3 billion more. An additional $1.5 billion is going to Chrysler Financial.
Chrysler and Fiat will work together on a restructuring plan that must be submitted to the Obama administration by Feb. 17, the companies announced.
Industry sources say UAW support for the alliance should help overcome Democratic concerns.
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The wrinkle: Finding the funds
Jesse Snyder Automotive News February 18, 2009 - 12:01 am ET
The biggest obstacle to a Chrysler-Fiat alliance may be finding the cash to finance a potential surge of product sharing.
Analysts say a strategic partnership of Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A., of Italy, makes long-term sense and would be complementary, with little geographic or product duplication. But they question both automakers' current financial reserves.
Chrysler took a $4 billion U.S. government loan this month to stave off bankruptcy and is seeking a $3 billion loan this quarter. Its plants are closed most of the first quarter.
Fiat group's 2008 net profit fell 16 percent to 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion). Last week Fiat lowered guidance on 2009 earnings because it expects weak auto sales. Last year Fiat's debt level rose unexpectedly to 5.9 billion euros ($7.6 billion).
Chrysler and Fiat can reduce development costs on an anticipated seven new vehicles for North America, but they still have U.S. homologation and tooling expenses, said Rebecca Lindland, a Global Insight analyst.
"Chrysler and Fiat definitely need an outside infusion of capital to make this work," she said.
Last week, Standard & Poor's announced a possible future downgrade of Fiat's credit rating, citing its growing debt burden and the industry's outlook. Fiat's current bond rating is one notch above junk status.
Cash problems ahead
CSM Worldwide Vice President Michael Robinet sees two cash-flow problems ahead for Fiat: developing new generations of its four main platforms and a lousy European sales environment. CSM estimates sales will decline 14 percent this year.
Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas in London calls the alliance "a deal born of weakness on both sides," matching No. 6 in Europe with No. 4 in U.S. sales.
"Both companies need a partner to survive this crisis," Jonas said. "But it is unclear that partnering with each other is the solution."
Last week's tentative agreement giving Fiat a 35 percent stake in Chrysler in exchange for Fiat technology injected no cash into the ailing U.S. automaker. It matches a trait in more than two dozen alliances that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has forged: Fiat rarely puts much cash into a deal.
And it won't with Chrysler, either. "We're not going to fund" any of Chrysler's costs," said Marchionne in a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Jan. 22.
"If they ever manufacture anything on our behalf, it will be done on our account," he said. "Anything which they produce on their account will be paid by them, regardless of the source of the architecture of the powertrain."
Marchionne said turning Chrysler around is possible only if Chrysler creditors agree to convert debt into equity. He said that must occur before Fiat takes its 35 percent stake to avoid dilution.
Cerberus seems to want out
Cerberus Capital Management LP currently owns 80.1 percent of Chrysler, plus all of Chrysler Financial. Daimler AG owns the remaining 19.9 percent. Chrysler is privately held and does not disclose its finances, but analysts estimate its current debt at about $9 billion.
A wild card in the deal is the future role of both Cerberus and Daimler. Cerberus appears eager to reduce its stake in its auto manufacturing side but keep its ownership of Chrysler Financial. Cerberus told Congress it would accept creditors and employees gaining equity.
Daimler already has written down the value of its Chrysler stake to zero and is worried about its exposure to more losses. But it still could potentially block any deal it doesn't like.
"Cerberus would do anything to get out of Chrysler," Global Insight's Lindland said. "Daimler would be happy to be diluted."
While the alliance gives Chrysler no immediate cash infusion, it helps the automaker convince a skeptical Congress that Chrysler has a long-term future. By Feb. 17, Chrysler must submit a plan to Congress proving its viability as a condition to get the $3 billion loan.
Even though some legislators may object to lending money to a foreign-controlled Chrysler, this will help over-all, Lindland said.
"A Fiat-Chrysler alliance is certainly a better plan than it can provide by itself," she said. "And Chrysler abso-lutely needs the second round of loans because 2009 sales are not going to generate anywhere near enough rev-enue to survive."
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