By on September 26, 2012

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.

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12 Comments on “Fiat Confirms Italian Built Exports As CAW Deal Expected Today...”

  • avatar

    In a word, no.
    But, they will be able to build cars developed from Fiat platforms/architecture such as a new small Jeep, and probably the new small Chrysler (100), which it will share with Lancia.

    Chrysler is responsible for large vehicle platforms/architecture which will continue to be assembled in NA since that is their primary market.

  • avatar

    They’d be able to build minivans on a Fiat line. Some tooling would need to change, but the basic product is the same: transverse engines, FWD unibodies. Back in the good old days of Chrysler, they built Caravans in Austria at the Steyr-Puch plant for European consumption.

  • avatar

    If the plant is capable (Body Shop is ‘flexible’), Paint / Final / Chassis lines can accomodate vehicle size, I would say it would take 4 weeks to install tooling plus prove out would last another 6 months. It would be less if you did this to an empty plant. I am assuming you are integrating a new product over a product that will phase out once you start production of the new. When you relocate production, you’re essentially starting over, even if you have the same parts / parts suppliers. Man/Material/Machine/Process will all interface in a different manner so you have to build, ID issues, then fix issues. Build again to prove out fixes, ID new issues, build again… you get the point.

  • avatar

    Seems as though there are still lots of places with empty grounds in the south of the united states. Time will tell.

  • avatar

    Fiat buit the 500 in Toluca MX where the Journey was the only product previously… I think it took about a year; to make any money you need to locally source the chemical adhesives and sealers which have a short shelf life (don’t want them curing on the way to the new plant!) and any components you don’t have capacity for at home (or don’t want to pay import duties on).

    Surprisingly the Journey as the Fiat Freemont is the one US model selling well in Europe… over 30,000 so far this year.

    I agree the CUSW models would be the easiest to slot in but I’m still not sure how much sense this makes. By the time Italy is cranking out Darts or Libertys to export here their sales may have dropped enough not to matter. The real capacity issue Chrysler has is Grand Cherokees and Wranglers, neither of which makes sense overseas.

    Good bargaining chip though.

    • 0 avatar

      That is surprising. I haven’t heard much about the Journey/Freemont at all, but nice to hear FiatChrysler has a sort of stealth hit on their hands. Never would have guessed it would work that well in Europe.

  • avatar

    Actually, the PT Cruiser was built in Toluca before Journey, and the Neon before that.

  • avatar

    Why Not? The World is getting smaller now and Chrysler is now just a small part of the FIAT Empire, people in those USA places will have to get used to this,wont they?

  • avatar

    I hope Sergie gives the CAW the middle finger. Move production out of Canada AND Italy to Mexico and Eastern Europe. He’s in it for the long game and that is what will eventually happen unless the Unions cooperate and give into more globally competative labor practices.

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