With a CAW labor contract expected to be announced today, Fiat has confirmed that cars built in Italy will be exported to markets like the United States, as Fiat looks beyond its ailing home market for growth.
While specific model plans for the exports weren’t announced, the rumor mill has included everything from domestic Fiat models to Chryslers and unreleased compact Jeeps. Reuters reports that Fiat plants in Italy are running at around 50 percent capacity, well below the 75 percent needed for a plant to make economic sense. On the other hand, Chrysler plants in North America are running at full capacity. TTAC readers with experience in automobile manufacturing – I know you’re out there – please lend us your expertise on this matter. Would Chrysler be able to take a plant making Fiat Pandas and tool it up for Chrysler LX cars in a relatively short time frame?
Meanwhile on our shores, the CAW and Chrysler are apparently close to a deal, with CAW President Ken Lewenza telling The Globe and Mail
“I absolutely think it’s possible…There’s still some very, very minor issues around the pattern that have to be dealt with. We’re going to keep working at it over the course of the day.”
Given Chrysler’s tough talk, and the insistence of industry experts that an agreement between the two sides would have to follow the “pattern” set by Ford and GM (much to the displeasure of Chrysler), the agreement, when announced, is going to be very interesting – but not as interesting as what Sergio will decide to do afterwards.