Fiat Manufacturing Czar Visits Chrysler Factories. This is News?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Apparently so. Automotive News [sub] reports that “Fiat Group manufacturing guru Stefan Ketter inspected Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit this morning as part of a series of North American plant visits to improve Chrysler quality and efficiency, UAW officials said today.” So why is this news? Other than the fact that maybe Ketter hasn’t been to ChryCo plants before now? I mean, you’d kinda hope that Fiat’s main manufacturing man would have checked-out ALL Chrysler plants prior to U.S. taxpayers handing the Italians over ten billion dollars and the keys to the bankrupt automaker’s, uh, fortune. Anyway, boy what a guru! “[UAW Local 1700 President Bill] Parker said he was optimistic after Ketter’s four-hour visit today that the Sterling Heights plant would stay open beyond the current Sebring production run through December 2010.” Is Ketter a hypnotist? If he is, he’s a damn good one.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Sep 18, 2009

    I wonder how much of the existing equipment comes from Comau (a Fiat subsidiary specializing in automotive mfg plant equipment)... Paint shops and body shops are the big-ticket capital items in a modern assy plant... If the paint-shop is new, it should be capable of finishing anything equal to or smaller than the Sebring and if so, then half the battle is won there... "Irrational exuberance" can play a nasty role in weakening the strategic review and due-diligence process... The employer of a friend of mine bought a large manufacturing subsidiary from one of their OEM customers ... something like a line-extension, but into a related but more complex automotive technology. Friend asked the CEO what he liked about the deal, and CEO replied "the technology, and they have the best machining equipment in the world for making it." Friend then reflected on the new technologies entering the market and on customer value targets, and realized how most of their other OEM customers wouldn't need, or couldn't afford, such high-zoot components, and aside from the strategic importance of getting the credibility for being in this market segment (which CEO didn't mention but they were both keenly aware of), came to the conclusion that they were buying the best equipment for producing that which few would want, or could afford, and ultimately would be quickly obsoleted by newer mechatronic systems. So instead of reducing their bid by the value of essentially-impaired assets and shrinking book of business for the aging technologies, they over-paid (there were no other bidders, as the competition looked, but was not interested, and walked months before.) And they had to struggle with down-sizing the german-union-represented asset and trying to make it profitable. CEO refers to as a nightmare, and other people's fault.

  • Sinistermisterman Sinistermisterman on Sep 18, 2009

    With news snippets like this and headlines like "Fiat runs into host of unforeseen problems at Chrysler" & "Chrysler worse off than Fiat expected"; does anyone get the feeling that Fiat now know they've bitten off more than they can chew? I get the feeling that Fiat are very quietly going to leave Chrysler to die a long and drawn out wheezing death while they slip out the back door with their nice fat payoff from Uncle Sam...

  • Johngalt Johngalt on Sep 18, 2009

    Ketter was at Windsor Assembly today. The midnight shift was sent home 3 hours early (with pay) so they could shine up the floor the man was going to walk on. Cost (aside from 3 hours lost production) $150,000+. There is always one indicator of whether a company can survive or not. Watch to see if they are taking care of the money. If not, they are doomed. Chrysler is not taking care of the money and apparently Fiat isn't that concerned about it either. Shutting down a plant for 3 hours to "shine up the penny?" And they did similar things as every plant Ketter visited. How is it possible he doesn't know this is just a show put on with the limited money from U.S. and Canadian taxpayers? While Marchionne is making statements laying the groundwork for more government money, the taxpayer money they do have is being wasted like never before. And when that taxpayer money is gone, that's it. Like I said , doomed.

  • JSF22 JSF22 on Sep 19, 2009

    Before he joined Fiat, this douche was head of service and quality for VW in the US. Enough said.