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Chrysler-Fiat joint venture for Mirafiori

by Bill Cawthon on

Today, in a meeting held at Unione Industriale di Torino, Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, presented the trade unions with a plan to relaunch the plant at Mirafiori in Turin, Italy.

According to a statement released by Fiat S.p.A. following the meeting, the plan calls for the establishment of a joint venture between Chrysler and Fiat to bring a new platform to Turin from the United States for production of larger segment passenger cars and SUVs for the Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands. The $1.3 billion investment to retool the plant would be split between Fiat and Chrysler in proportion to volumes produced for each brand.

The Fiat-Chrysler Compact Wide platform represents the most advanced architecture available today. It was originally designed as the base for the Giulietta and saw further development at Chrysler. It will be shared by the two Groups and used for development of all future C & D segment passenger cars and SUVs. Models produced by the new company at Mirafiori will also be exported outside the European Union. More than half of the vehicles will destined for international markets with an emphasis on North America. the Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands were selected because they are already the most international brands of the two Groups and they represent significant global development potential.

Bringing this new platform to Mirafiori will result in potential production of up to more than 1,000 vehicles per day or some 250,000-280,000 vehicles per year, resulting in full utilization of the current workforce and opening the way for potential new jobs. Marchionne emphasized that the support of trade unions and employees is essential to this project to ensure that Mirafiori has the necessary level of competitiveness in terms of capacity utilization, productivity and operational flexibility.

Marchionne said he intends to initiate the project immediately so the plant can be reconfigured in time for the launch of the new mid-size Jeep and the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and station wagon, planned for the third or fourth quarter of 2012.

According to the company statement, “This is an extraordinary opportunity for Italian industry to produce cars of quality and prestige. Mirafiori has all the elements necessary to achieve a leap of quality and become a world class plant, producing cars for Europe, North America and other markets around the world.

“This project is the first tangible example of the benefits brought by the Chrysler alliance to Italian operations and it is significant that it should take place at Mirafiori, the symbol of this nation’s industrial and automotive culture.”

Construction of the Mirafiori plant began in 1937. Today, it is one of the largest industrial facilities in Italy. The plant is staffed by about 5,800 employees including 5,500 union workers.

If the unions accept the plan, this will be the second European source for Jeep products. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Commander, Chrysler 300C and Chrysler Voyager minivan are assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Magna Steyr’s predecessor, Steyr-Daimler-Puch Fahrzeugtechnik, purchased the Chrysler-owned Eurostar plant in 2003.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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