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Shipping company bets big on FCA

by Bill Cawthon on

Italy’s Grimaldi Group, the world’s largest operator of oceangoing car and passenger ferries, is putting their money on Sergio Marchionne and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

And they’re betting a big pile of chips.


This month, Family-owned Grimaldi is expected to close orders for five new Ro-Ro (roll on-roll-off) ships that carry a total price tag of $300 million.

Emanuale-Grimaldi-Web“We have shortlisted some Chinese yards and the order will be finalized in March,” Emanuele Grimaldi told The Wall Street Journal. “The ships will carry 7,000 cars each on 13 decks and will move Fiat- and Chrysler-made cars from Europe to the U.S. and the other way around.”

Ro-Ro ships allow vehicles to be driven directly from and to staging areas at each port, providing significant savings in labor costs and loading time. Inside, the ships resemble large parking garages.

Grimaldi Group, which is based in Naples, Italy, operates more than 100 ships through five main companies: Grimaldi Lines, Atlantic Container Lines, Minoan Lines, Malta Motorways of the Sea and Finnlines. The company transports vehicles from the U.S. and Canada to Europe and West Africa; from Europe to South America and West Africa; and from northern Europe to the Mediterranean.

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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