Sergio Marchionne's right hand man Alfredo Altavilla is elected Chairman of ACEA's Commercial Vehicle Board while rumours go wild over a Fiat Industrial acquisition of VW's commercial vehicle interests in MAN and Scania.

The Commercial Vehicle Board of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has elected Alfredo Altavilla as its new Chairman for 2011. Altavilla is CEO of Iveco. At ACEA, he takes over from Leif Johansson, CEO of Volvo Group, who was ACEA Commercial Vehicle Chairman during 2010.

“I look forward to further intensify our dialogue with the European Institutions on behalf of the European truck, van and bus manufacturers, and I thank Mr Johansson for his valuable work in 2010”, said Altavilla. “A main priority in 2011 for the commercial vehicle sector remains the achievement of a full recovery from the financial and economic crisis. Our sector was hit harder than most, and it will take a number of years before we return to pre-crisis levels. However, we are positive and confident to maintain our position as technology leaders around the world”.

In 2010, heavy-duty vehicle production continued to decrease in the first quarter before rising by 57% and 66% in the second and third, sharply contrasting with the crisis-marked levels of 2009. Overall, truck production remained considerably below the levels of 2008 (-53% over the first three quarters). The market situation remains difficult especially in Eastern and Southern Europe, whereas in other parts of Europe, as well as in the US, the outlook is better. Asian and Latin American markets are doing extremely well.

“We call on policy makers to deploy all possible means to ensure a supportive regulatory and business environment in Europe”, added Altavilla in the ACEA statement, “addressing issues from access to capital to strengthening funding for R&D. Special attention should also be given to the difficulties experienced by vehicle industry suppliers due to reduced production levels. In particular, policy makers should consider measures to encourage fleet renewal. This would sustain our substantial contribution to improving the environmental performance of road transport and contributing to improving road safety”.

Alfredo Altavilla, 47, is CEO of Iveco, a company of Fiat Industrial, since November 2010. He joined Fiat Auto in 1990 and has been in charge of Business Development since 2001 with, subsequently, responsibility for the management of Fiat Group alliances. In September 2004, he was appointed Chairman of FGP (Fiat/GM Powertrain JV) and Senior Vice President of Business Development of Fiat Auto. In addition, in July 2005, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Tofas, listed on the Istanbul stock exchange. In November 2006, he was named CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies and became a member of the Group Executive Council of the Fiat Group. In July 2009, he joined the Board of Directors of Chrysler Group and in October 2009, was named Executive Vice President of Business Development of the Fiat Group.

Meanwhile the media has gone into overdrive over remarks Sergio Marchionne has made at the Detroit Auto Show this week. "We’re not a seller of assets but at Fiat [Industrial] we are potentially acquirers, if Volkswagen wants to divest its truck assets," remarked the Fiat Industrial Chairman to reporters. With Fiat's lack of financial resources and the over $13 billion valuation of the two stakes VW has in MAN and Scania, not to mention their profitability, Marchionne, generally seen as a CEO more associated with talk than results, was most probably biting back at VW's regular shows of interest in acquiring the Alfa Romeo brand. In Detroit VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said that Alfa Romeo was "nice and interesting", his latest comments in his long running interest in the faded sports brand.

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