Thursday, 16 January 2014

Fiat to Focus on Alfa Revamp after Merger with Chrysler, Lancia will be Reduced to Italy Only

Now that Fiat has full control of Chrysler and a green light for the complete merger, Sergio Marchionne says the Italian carmaker will focus on revamping its Alfa Romeo brand. Production of new models from the iconic marque will remain in Italy, as Fiat wants to revive its European operation and protect jobs.

In an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, Marchionne reassured unions and politicians that Italy will continue to play an important role in Fiat’s plans.

“Just as the Jeep is sold in the whole world but is American to the bone, so Alfa’s DNA has to be authentically all Italian.  It will indeed remain at home,” the CEO said. Marchionne added that the sporty Alfa Romeo brand can be successful globally, something the Fiat brand cannot. Furthermore, Alfa Romeo has the potential of far greater sales than Maserati.

The full acquisition of Chrysler will allow Fiat to direct investments into underutilized Italian plants and help reinstate the thousands of workers on temporary layoff schemes, the executive added.

Fiat will exit the low and medium segment of the market, instead focusing on developing models within the Panda and 500 families, Marchionne said. He added that Lancia would become a brand for the Italian market only, which can only mean a slow death for the once famous rally-brand.

The Fiat boss said the Mirafiori plant would built “something else” besides the Maserati SUV, but didn’t go into details. As for the other Italian plants, the Melfi facility will produce the Fiat 500X and the baby Jeep, while Pomigliano will continue to make the Fiat Panda and “maybe a second vehicle”. The Cassino plant is seen as the most suitable for an Alfa Romeo relaunch.

As for the rumored New York listing of the merged Fiat-Chrysler company, Marchionne said a potential move of the listing or headquarters outside Italy was symbolic and did not mean production would be transferred away.

By Dan Mihalascu

Story References: La Repubblica via Reuters


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