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Thursday, March 05, 2009

FIAT goes Off-Road in Chrysler deal, Itallians want some American Joe Dirt Hemi Power Fun

Fiat Would Gain Off-Road, SUV Designs From Chrysler Partnership

By Marco Bertacche and Rishaad Salamat

March 4 (Bloomberg) --Fiat SpA would gain access to off-road vehicle technology in Chrysler LLC’s Jeep and Dodge brands if the Italian carmaker is able to take a stake in the U.S. company, a Fiat executive said.

“The Jeep and Dodge brands are extremely strong worldwide and we would be able to leverage on that,” Alfredo Altavilla, head of Fiat Powertrain Technologies, said in a Bloomberg Television interview at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Fiat, based in Turin, is poised to take a 35 percent stake in Chrysler, the Detroit automaker propped up by U.S. government aid. The Italian company’s chief executive officer, Sergio Marchionne, is traveling to Washington today to help Chrysler try to persuade the U.S. Treasury to approve the deal.

Chrysler says it wants a partnership with Fiat to gain access to the company’s small-car technology and global sales network. It may use a Fiat model as the basis for replacing the Dodge Caliber small car, for example. Fiat could use Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango designs for a sport-utility vehicle.

Altavilla said the two companies would glean significant cost savings from the partnership.

“The increase in volumes would help reduce costs on both sides,” he said. Chrysler has identified $7.4 billion in additional revenue and cost cuts over the next seven years and Marchionne confirmed that estimate yesterday.

Fiat presented its Multiair electro-hydraulic engine technology today at the Geneva show. The new system, which reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent, may be licensed to rivals, Altavilla said. Fiat invested 100 million euros ($126 million) in the new engine, he said.

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