Drive Type: FWD
Trim: Touring Sport Utility 4-Door
Wellford, South Carolina, United States
Now that Fiat has finalized a deal to purchase the outstanding shares of Chrysler owned by the United Auto Workers' VEBA retiree heathcare fund without having to file for an IPO, you can count the Italian automaker's stockholders among the happy. The Detroit News reports that Fiat stock closed Thursday with a 12-percent gain for the day on the Borsa Italiana, having been up by as much as 15.8 percent during the day's trading, at prices not seen since mid-2011. One trader reasoned the run was because Fiat "paid less than the market had expected and there will be no capital increase to fund this."
But there are some who worry, including bank analysts and unions. The final price of the stake will be $4.35 billion - $1.9 billion in cash from Chrysler, $1.75 billion from Fiat and extraordinary dividends in the amount of $700 million paid over three years. Adding that sum to its ledger will raise Fiat's debt level to roughly 10 billion euros ($13.8 billion), which Citibank says will make it the most indebted OEM in Europe.
Italian unions are also concerned about what the deal means for the future. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has had an at-times contentious relationship with both unions and the Italian government over the future of Italian manufacturing, a fact that makes headlines because Fiat is Italy's largest private employer. At least two left-leaning unions have publicly called on Fiat to give guarantees and to explain what the deal means for its Italian operations, while a centrist union argues this is "good news for Fiat workers, for the auto industry and for our country."
Chrysler and Mitsubishi have had a close relationship since the early '70s. Back then, they partnered up to sell the Japanese brand's models under American names as captive imports in the US. Vehicles like the Dodge Colt, Eagle Summit, and eventually the 3000GT/Stealth twins and lots of other cars and trucks became the fruits of that alliance. In fact, the two companies still maintain a good rapport, as evidenced by reports of a new deal to sell the Mitsubishi Attrage, also known the Mirage G4, in Mexico starting in November.
The Attrage is a small, four-door sedan that borrows many of the mechanical bits from the Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. According to Automotive News, the deal allows Chrysler to sell the model in Mexico for the next five years. The deal could be a win-win for both companies. Mitsubishi gets to use more capacity at its Laem Chabang, Thailand factory where the car is made, and Chrysler gets a new vehicle for a growing market with almost zero development costs. At this time, there's no indication of the new model's name in Mexico, though.
There's also still a chance the Attrage might make it to the US market as well. The automaker showed off the sedan as the Mirage G4 at the 2014 Montreal Motor Show ahead of promised sales in small-car-friendly Canada. The Mirage hatchback was introduced to the US in a similar way, debuting in Canada first and then crossing the border. While reviews for the Mirage have been pretty atrocious, it would still be interesting to see Mitsubishi further expanding its lineup in North America.
Consumer Reports has announced its annual list of worst vehicles, a cringe-inducing contrast to its list of top vehicles. Ignominiously leading the way in 2014 is Chrysler, which has a staggering seven models listed.
Jeep nearly sweeps the small SUV segment by itself, with its Compass, Patriot and 2.4-liter version of the new Cherokee, while the only midsize sedans listed by CR were the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger. The new Dodge Dart and the Dodge Journey round out CR's condemnation of Chrysler.
Ford is taking heat as well, with the Taurus, Edge and their counterparts from Lincoln all listed as the worst vehicles in their respective segments. Toyota doesn't fare much better, with its Lexus IS, Scion iQ and tC also making the list.