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Ferrari, Brazil drive Fiat Q1 profits

by Bill Cawthon on

Sales of Ferrari automobiles, an increase in Brazilian sales and improved sales of commercial vehicles overcame a major passenger car slump in the Italian automaker’s home markets to produce first-quarter profits 9.1 percent ahead of last year.

Trading profit, which covers earnings before interest, tax and one-time special items, rose to 251 million euros (about $365.6 million) from 230 million euros in the first quarter of 2010.

Ultrapremium brands Ferrari and Maserati beat their last years’ numbers. Ferrari sales rose 18.6 percent to 491 million euros ($715.5 million); Maserati sales improved 6.3 percent to 135 million euros ($196.7 million). The two brands contributed 62 million euros profit ($90.4 million) to the kitty.

Fiat’s share of the growing Brazilian market remained stable at 22.1 percent. With better than one of every five cars sold in Brazil wearing a Fiat badge, the company remains the market leader.

With significant challenges on the European front, including a union lawsuit seeking to overturn recent labor contracts, CEO Sergio Marchionne says he has been devoting too much of his effort to Chrysler Group and will spend more time on Fiat in the coming months.

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, 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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