Fiat Plans GM-Style Brand "Channel" For Alfa, Abarth and Maserati

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
fiat plans gm style brand channel for alfa abarth and maserati

Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has a handful of brand management on his plate, as he aligns his two firms for the future. Merging Lancia and Chrysler was an obvious move; creating one full-line brand (albeit with different names from market to market) is a lot better than trying to keep two distinct brands, although even with their powers combined, Chrysler/Lancia is going to have an uphill struggle. With Lancia “taken care of,” the biggest problem on Fiat’s plate is Alfa Romeo, which has reportedly lost €200m-€400m per year for the last decade.

Marchionne put Alfa under strategic review at the beginning of December, saying the brand had a year to get its proverbial shit together. The two deathly options given to Alfa: a product freeze or rebadged Chryslers. Yikes! While Alfa’s leadership contemplates those charming optinos, Fiat has announced to Automotive News [sub] that Alfa, Abarth and Maserati will be placed under the leadership of Harald J. Wester, who is tasked with “identifying potential synergies” between Maserati and Alfa. Too bad then that, short of the limited-run 8C Competizione, those synergies are nonexistant. Meanwhile, Marchionne’s little empire is looking more and more like a cobbled-together proto-GM than ever before.

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  • Mtypex Mtypex on Jan 21, 2010

    Where's my Alfa Romeo?

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 21, 2010

    It feels more like Proctor & Gamble, which holds a host of disparate brands under the P&G name. All of GM's vehicles go down the road; Fiats don't always do that.

  • Djn Djn on Jan 22, 2010

    Gslippy has a good point. The Italian fashion houses manage many brands successfully. Just because GM couldn't do it doesn't mean that Sergio can't

  • FromBrazil FromBrazil on Jan 22, 2010

    Guess we'll all just have to wait and see. Of the 12 cars I've had my 6 Fiats have been virtually perfect. And when things fail it's because it's time to fix them anyway (how many years is lightbulb supposed to last anyway?). No, outside normal wear items when thing broke on my Fiat it's my fault (like my clutch going out at only 80k km, hey but I was "auto-crossing" a little Uno for Pete's sake). Not to mention they've proven themselves to me in a country where conditions are not easy on a car (terrible pavement, exreme heat, low temperatures, horrible and many time adulterated fuel, endless stop and go traffic). Anyway, at least down here, parts are plentiful and cheap. I think part of the negative image they still have in older Americans' minds is that in the 70s their cars had vey poor support. I think that maybe they have learned from their experience. And that the company is much more professional now and fosters best practices and talent. So I think they have a hope. Now, yes I think Fiats need maintenance. Give them their due and they'll run forever. Quite the opposite of Japanese cars going on and on for thousands of miles without an oil change. Though if you're interested I can tell a story of a little Uno, which BTW belonged to my brother-in-law, that ran for...What's the use? You won't believe me anyway.