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Chrysler, Fiat merge in South Africa, Australia

by David Zatz on

Chrysler and Fiat are finally merging in South Africa; Chrysler South Africa’s Trent Barcroft will take over leadership of the nation’s Fiat operations as a first step. Oscar Rivoli, managing director of Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa, will move to a position in Turin, Italy, according to the company.

Barcroft, Managing Director of Chrysler SA since 2009, has spent 30 years with Chrysler in sales, marketing, and “aftersales roles.” His association with South Africa started in 1999, when he developed the current dealer network; he managed the Chrysler Division between 2000 and 2005, and was then shipped out to the Middle East. Chrysler had a record sales month of 1,001 cars in June (a 69% rise over June 2011) and year-to-date sales are 37% ahead of the same period last year. Chrysler and Fiat both have small market shares in South Africa, where over a half million vehicles are sold per year, despite a large presence in the past.

Fiat and Alfa Romeo are already appearing at Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge facilities. Head office operations will remain separate, though some senior executive positions will be combined.

In May, Chrysler Australia underwent a similar change as Chrysler Australia became the distributor for Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat Professional in Australia. The 17 Fiat and Alfa Romeo passenger car dealerships and 22 commercial outlets now report to the Melbourne-based Chrysler Australia group. As a whole, Fiat had sold only 2,635 vehicles in Australia during 2011, despite a wide range (Giulietta, 159 sedan and wagon, 500, 500 Abarth, Ducato, and Scudo). Chrysler Australia sales rose 28% in 2011, over 2010, and this year show signs of a much greater increase. (Australia as a whole was responsible for just over one million car sales; neither Fiat nor Chrysler broke into the top ten, and each had sales of under 30,011.)

At the beginning of the year, a similar step was taken in Russia, adding Fiat and Alfa Romeo to Russian Chrysler dealers. 103 dealerships signed onto the change.

(Thanks, patfromigh – also see this interview with Chrysler Australia’s Chief Engineer.)

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