Friday, August 7, 2009

Fiat to takeover historic carmaker Bertone to design future cars for Chrysler

MILAN (AP) — The Italian automaker Fiat on Thursday won a bid to take over the bankrupt Italian car company Bertone, which will help design cars for the U.S. automaker Chrysler, the Italian Economic Development Ministry said.

Fiat, which owns a controlling stake in Chrysler, has pledged to invest euro150 million over the next three years in Bertone, representing the best offer for investors, the ministry said.

Bertone has specialized designing cars over its 97-year history for such brands as Fiat, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lamborghini.

"The sale to Fiat guarantees the future of a historic Piemontese company. In fact, the plan foresees the reabsorption of 1,137 workers, who will be gradually reinserted into their jobs, and the integration with Chrysler for the production in Italy of some models for the American auto company," Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola said in a statement.

Fiat took a 20-percent controlling stake in Chrysler in June, and its CEO Sergio Marchionne is running both automakers. The deal was based on the transfer to Chrysler of clean-engine and small-car technology, but Marchionne has recently said that he underestimated the value of Chrysler technology, knowledge and platforms for Fiat.

Among the models designed by Bertone are the Opel Astra, Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint, the Fiat Punto Cabriolet and the BMW Garmisch 2200Ti, the forerunner of the BMW 5-series.

Bertone filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007, and stayed away from the Geneva Auto Show last year for the first time in more than 50 years due to its financial constraints.

1 comment:

  1. FIAT cars are, in fact, excellent.

    I've spent a lot of time in Europe, and know, have owned, and rented FIAT and Alfa Romeo cars. The technology and quality is very good, the style is fantastic, and If you thought having more small cars in America will be a boring hell, then you've never driven a FIAT.

    Forget what your college roomate told you in 1974, most of the problems arose from US safety and emissions regs, dealer issues in the US, and Russian steel which the company unfortunately obtained in a barter deal for a factory there. I myself had a 1978 FIAT 131 Mirafiori that was the most enjoyable economy car you could imagine... still on the road 30 years later, too.

    And current FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne is a genius, if you read what The Economist had to say about what's he's done at the company, you'd understand just how well run FIAT is... the only currently profitable European automaker.

    I also rented a small, 4 door FIAT Panda in Greece... it got 40-50mpg on gas, and was a very sporty drive for an econobox. FIAT also makes what we would call a midsize, the Croma... which is like a Taurus, and they produce all matter of trucks right-up-to big rigs.

    They invented the now widespread "single rail" diesel technology, and their smallest cars get 70mpg on diesel... who needs hybrids? Any portrayal of FIAT as a producer of antiquidated, poor quality little cars is nonsense from the uninformed. IMO, they are going to surprise a whole lot of people.