claims that Fiat is set to collaborate with Ford on
the production of a new small car.
Handelsblatt - a German financial newspaper - started the
ball rolling this morning by claimed that that Fiat and Ford
are already deep into talks that will see the two setting up
a new collaboration to produce a new 'small' car. It quoted
unnamed sources involved with the negotiations - as stating
that "the talks are already far along." The story quickly
exploded, and by lunchtime today, highly respected financial news
service, Reuters, had weighed into the equation by stating that
"a person familiar with the matter" had confirmed the
Ever since Fiat
and General Motors terminated their joint venture 'Powertrain'
project back in February, the Italian firm has been casting
around in an effort to find new partners to share new model
development cost burdens, and to make fully use of their
chronic overcapacity in their Italian factories. New CEO
Sergio Marchionne has made this a key cornerstone of his
plans to revive Fiat's fortunes.
On Tuesday -
during the launch of the new Fiat Grande Punto model in
Turin - Marchionne stirred the rumour pot by stating that a
new manufacturing alliance would be announced before the end
of the year.
"By the end of 2005 we will announce the first of Fiat's
targeted alliances," he told the assembled reporters, before
swiftly squashing widespread speculation that it would be
with an Eastern-based car manufacturer, adding that "the
industrial alliance will not be with an Asian company."
Speculation immediately turned to the giant DaimlerChrysler
carmaker - who had been interested in Fiat Auto at the same
time as GM had moved closer at the turn of this decade - as
a potential stategic partner, possibly through their 'Smart'
lifestyle brand. However, on Wednesday a spokesman for the
US-German carmaker firmly ruled any new alliance out,
telling Reuters, "that
is absolute nonsense."