Where are the Fiat cars that are supposed to show up at Chrysler dealers next month?
Wed Apr 8, 2009 (New York Auto Show)
Chrysler President and Vice Chairman Jim Press surprised reporters at
Chrysler's news conference to unveil a new Jeep Grand Cherokee by
arriving on the stage in an iconic Fiat 500 subcompact. The 500, one of
the Italian automaker's most successful models, would help fill the void
of small vehicles in Chrysler's lineup if Chrysler survives and brings
Fiat cars to U.S. showrooms by 2011, as planned.
The following originally posted here May 2, 2009:
The plan: 7 Fiat vehicles for U.S.
From mid-sized to micro, Chrysler can plug holes
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
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:
Subcompact (B segment)
Alfa Romeo MiTo, plus a vehicle for one of Chrysler's brands.
Fiat's Alfa Romeo MiTo:
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
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
Fiat and Chrysler begin talks on possible areas of cooperation.
Fiat Powertrain Technologies buys the Brazilian engine plant Tritec from
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.
Chrysler approaches Fiat with a list of what's needed to turn Chrysler
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
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.
Fiat also will supply Chrysler new platforms to develop cars in the
compact and mid-sized, or C and D, segments ? glaring weaknesses in
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
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.
Critics: Fiat is getting a free ride
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
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
Industry sources say UAW support for the alliance should help overcome
The wrinkle: Finding the funds
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
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."
- posted 9 years ago