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Marchionne says Fiat Chrysler can make 6 million cars per year

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:15:00 EST

The combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will see its production capacity increase from a projected 4.6 million in 2014 to 6 million units once it completes its integration, according to statements made by FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
"With the initiatives we will announce in May, six million is accessible," Marchionne said during a Fiat shareholders' meeting in Turin, according to The Detroit News. Marchionne is aiming to complete the merger between the Turin, Italy-based Fiat and the Auburn Hills, MI-based Chrysler by the end of this year.
Increasing production by 1.4 million units is no small order, particularly when combined Fiat and Chrysler sales have increased only modestly in the past few years - only 4.4 million units were sold in 2013, and while 4.6 million is projected for 2014, 4.5 million is also a distinct possibility. Six million units per year has been Marchionne's self-imposed goal for the combined automaker, according to The News, claiming that FCA would need to crest that point to achieve profitability.

Fiat mulling purchase of MV Agusta?

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:29:00 EST

Apparently to be a cool automaker in Europe, you have to build motorcycles. Volkswagen Group bought Ducati in 2012, and BMW has made bikes longer than it's made cars (until recently, it also owned Husqvarna). Fiat might be the next automaker to get into the two-wheel business, with rumors flying that it is considering buying cash-strapped Italian sportbike brand MV Agusta.
At the moment, it's all still very much a rumor, but the purchase would certainly seem to help the motorcycle company. However, according to Asphalt and Rubber, the business would need a lot of cash to grow and sustain itself. Fiat might not want to invest so much into a brand that may never be a huge moneymaker.
MV Agusta is best known for its racing success in the '50s and '60s. Until Japanese manufacturers took over the sport, the Italian company was one of the fastest things on two wheels, with a long list of championships in various classes. Recently, it was briefly owned by Harley-Davidson.

European car sales up 8% in February

Sat, 22 Mar 2014 09:02:00 EST

Three weeks ago an analyst increased projections for European car sales this year, expecting them to climb three percent compared to last year instead of 2.7 percent. That number is a postive sign after years of hard times but it turns out February was especially good, overall European sales climbing eight percent on a wave of southern European recovery and discounts - and this comes after five months of gains including January's 7.2-percent jump over the year before.
The only country of Europe's five largest markets to post a decline was France, just as it did in January, Germany, the UK and Italy posting solid double-digit numbers, Spain rocking the charts with an 18-percent increase because of a government program to encourage trade-ins.
The only brand to miss the wave was Volkswagen, dropping 0.8 percent as it watched the double-digit growth at sister brands Audi, Seat and Skoda lift the Volkswagen Group sales up by seven-percent. Peugeot overcame flat sales at Citroën to improve the group by 3.5 percent, BMW and the Mercedes-Benz/Smart combo rose by four percent, the Fiat group jumped 5.8 percent, Ford was up 11 percent, the Renault Group 11.5 percent, General Motors 12 percent and the Toyota clan by 14 percent.

Lapo Elkann calls out Renault Twingo for copying Fiat 500 [w/poll]

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 09:29:00 EST

Small cars are becoming big business, especially for European automakers that are amping up the style. But is each new Euro city car's style unique?
Lapo Elkann is calling that into question. The brother of Fiat chairman John Elkann and the grandson of his late predecessor Gianni Agnelli is known as much as a style icon as he is for his work within the Fiat Group, which he has served in various capacities. He's combined the two by birthing various special editions of the Fiat 500 like the Gucci edition (to say nothing of his own denim-clad Ferraris), but now his eye is fixed on another European city car: the new Renault Twingo.
Posting photos of both vehicles on his Facebook page, Lapo is calling Renault out for what he sees as copying the Cinquecento's design.

Ram ProMaster City getting facelift courtesy of Fiat Doblo?

Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:00:00 EST

Our intrepid spy photographers have caught prototypes for a new Fiat Doblo. Now we know what you might be thinking (particularly if you didn't take note of the headline): why would we care about an automaker conducting a facelift on a European cargo van? Normally we wouldn't, only the Fiat Doblo has another name, under which it will be shortly be sold here in America: Ram ProMaster City.
Announced just months ago, the ProMaster City is the smaller counterpart to the Ram ProMaster, which itself is also a rebadged cargo van from Fiat Professional. Think of it as a Chrysler version of the Ford Transit and Transit Connect lineup - European vans being brought Stateside by automakers that operate on both sides of the Atlantic.
But despite the official announcement of the vehicle's pending arrival, we still haven't seen the PMC yet. The disguised Doblo prototypes pictured here appear to be wearing a completely new front end and some cosmetic revisions to their tail ends, too. We can't see anything in the interior, but the fact that it was completely covered up suggests that Fiat is working on overhauling that, as well.

Marchionne's pay as Fiat CEO falls to $5M

Wed, 12 Mar 2014 14:15:00 EST

Sergio Marchionne will be buying fewer of his iconic sweaters, as his 2013 pay from Fiat took a dip from $6.24 million to an even $5 million. Marchionne, who was also CEO of Chrysler, made $307,989 thanks to some stocks and benefits from the American company, although he didn't take a salary. Of that $5 million paid by Fiat, $3.19 million came from Marchionne's fixed salary while the remaining $1.8 million was paid for hitting unspecified performance targets.
The news comes from Fiat's compensation reports, which also showed that the 61-year-old, who already owned three million shares in Fiat at the end of 2013, was able to receive an additional 2.3 million shares through a stock incentive program. According to Automotive News Europe, the additional shares would be worth about $25 million at today's prices, although so far, Marchionne has declined to claim the extra shares.
According to ANE, Fiat reported a 2013 trading profit of $4.7 billion.

Maserati Levante production starting next year, Alfieri could come within 28 months

Sat, 08 Mar 2014 09:02:00 EST

Maserati is on a roll. The new Ghibli and Quattroporte have been huge successes, and it unveiled the gorgeous Alfieri concept (pictured above) at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The next step for the brand is getting the Levante crossover into production.
"We are getting Mirafiori ready for production [of the Levante]. The first bodies are expected for 2015," said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to Reuters in Geneva. He also said that there isn't much keeping the Alfieri off the streets. "The platforms and motors are there. Technically, production could start in 24-28 months," he said. However, Marchionne refused to say whether the company would actually give the concept a green light to be built.
Fiat hopes to be profitable again by 2016, and while its acquisition of Chrysler is certainly going to help, rejuvenating Alfa Romeo and Maserati are also a major part of the plan. In 2013, the Italian luxury brand saw sales more than double to 15,400 vehicles. Maser is still far away from its goal of selling 50,000 units by 2015, but it's quite a start. Fiat bought Maserati in 1993, but business went through a decade or more of doldrums and falling sales. It appears that the century-old brand is finally finding a path forward with some gorgeous new cars.

Fiat Panda Cross is a tiny off-roader for city and country

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:00:00 EST

Fiat already offered its compact Panda in a slightly off-road oriented 4X4 trim, but at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show it's debuting the Panda Cross that takes the style even farther. The Panda Cross is meant to be a utilitarian hatchback that drivers can use in the dirt if the need arises.
The Cross comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system with a standard electronic-locking differential, and for added traction, drivers can lock the diff below 30 miles per hour. Power is provided by either a 1.3-liter diesel four-cylinder with 80 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque or the 900-cc turbocharged two-cylinder with 90 hp and 107 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a six-speed manual.
On the outside, the Panda Cross gets a new front air dam that looks like drilled metal and fog lights integrated into the front end. The rear is reworked with chrome tailpipes and a bumper painted to look like a skid plate. The interior is a mix of fabric and pleather seats, plus a copper-colored dashboard. The Panda Cross will be on sale in Europe this fall, but don't expect to see it Stateside. Feel free to read more in the press release below.

The Fiat 500 Cult celebrates the little car's success with a new top model

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:33:00 EST

The Fiat 500 has proved to be a huge success since first being introduced in 2007. In that time, Fiat claims that it has sold over 1.2 million units worldwide. For the 2014 model, the Italians are celebrating with a new top-spec version called the 500 Cult at the Geneva Motor Show, but it likely will be limited to the European market.
The Cult is available as both a hatchback and convertible and each receive their own, unique color. The coupe is available in a light mint green called Lattementa Green that recalls the 500s from the 1960s, and the convertible is offered in Three-layer White. Both models get gloss black trim around the taillights, and the bumperettes and tailgate handles are finished in chrome. Buyers can choose between black or chrome trim for the door mirrors, both presenting a very retro look.
Inside, the Cult gets standard leather and a dashboard painted the same color as the body. A new 7-inch TFT display sits in the middle of the instrument cluster, which manages the media player, telephone, trip computer and displays warning messages. Automatic climate control and rear parking sensors are standard, and coupes get a sunroof.

Abarth 695 Biposto revealed as quickest Fiat 500 yet

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 03:31:00 EST

The Fiat 500 is supposed to be a budget model - something you can pick up with less than twenty grand to your name. But once Abarth gets its hands on it, all bets are off. The Scorpion brand is charged with getting the most performance it can out of budget-oriented vehicles like the Cinquecento and Punto, and that's just what it's done with the new 695 Biposto.
Billed as the "fastest street legal Abarth ever" (quickest?) and unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the 695 Biposto packs a 1.4-liter turbo four that's been tuned to produce 190 horsepower - a good thirty more than the already entertaining Fiat 500 Abarth we get in the United States. With a robust power-to-weight ratio - the highest in its class, according to the Italians - the 695 Biposto can hit 62 miles per hour from a standstill in just 5.9 seconds, more than a second quicker than the US model.
Now if you saw the name Biposto and figured out that means just two seats, you're spot on: in its campaign to trim excess fat, Abarth has ditched the rear bench and replaced the front seats with a set of Sabelt racing buckets with four-point harnesses anchored where the rear seats would be. The fixed plexiglass front side windows do their part, too. It's also been fitted with adjustable shocks, an MXL digital data recorder, a titanium rear roll bar, Brembo brakes and 18-inch OZ alloys.