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7th June 2002:  GM aquisition of Fiat Group would be "risky" warn US financial analysts
the facelifted Fiat Punto has struggled to make an impact in an important sector for the company, adding to Fiat's problemsAmerican financial analysts see little upside from GM purchasing the remaining 80% of Fiat SpA. With GM currently embarking on a major restructuring programme of their loss making European subsidary Adam Opel AG and intergrating the recently aquired Daewoo Motor Co, simultaniously trying to fix the major problems within the Fiat Group could see GM becoming bogged down.

Since the deal which saw GM purchase 20% of Fiat with an option to buy the remaining 80% through to July 2009, joint projects to develop engines and gearboxes, along with common parts purchasing schemes and shared vehicle platforms have seen ever closer ties between the companies evolve.

While GM is currently involved in a major cost cutting programme, the Fiat Group's huge recent losses of $395M in the first quarter of this year and $506M in 2001, would in comparison wipe out GM's $601M net profit for last year.

However although GM CEO Rick Waggoner has denied that there are any takeover talks planned, CFO John Devine has stated that GM could easily afford to purchase Fiat without affecting any current operations. The purchase could be made with a combination of stock and cash.

Rick Waggoner, stated however that GM and Fiat were looking at, and had indentified, further areas for co-operation, which could include, Fidis, the Fiat Group's finance arm as well as services and computer systems.

Analysts also point out that the price paid for the remaining 80% would not bear any relationship to the $2.4 billion paid in the initial deal, a figure which included setting up the joint ventures.

6th June 2002:  one line to close at Mirafiori plant
The Fiat Panda line at the Miafiori Plant will close later this year, bringing the Panda's 22 year production run to an endFollowing on from the ending of car production at the Rivalta plant, Fiat have announced that the Panda line will close at the end of the year when production of the 22-year old model ceases.

This will leave the plant, located on the southern edge of Turin, with four lines:

- the Marea saloon and stationwagon line will also carry out final assembly of the Lancia Lybra. From 2005 this line will produce the Fiat "New Large" Croma-successor and Lybra replacement, both which will be based on the GM "Epsilon" platform. 
- the Multipla, the new model now due ahead of schedule in 2004.
- the Punto line, which is being modified so it can handle the MPV, a "mini-MPV" based on the Punto, due in 2004.
- the fourth line handles the Alfa 166, which has been moved from Rivalta, and is now being tooled up to also handle the Lancia Thesis, which is expected to roll off the line from September.

The Mirafiori factory will shed around 1,500 employees in a €16M programme, leaving a workforce of around 8,000, while capacity is expected to be running at around 90% by the end of the year. Unit production this year is expected to be about 306,000 units, down from 374,379 in 2001, a figure which includes Rivalta's now transferred production.

5th June 2002:  Fiat's share of the Italian car market slides
the new Fiat Stilo, on which Fiat had been pinning much hope has not been a major sales success so farAdding to Fiat's troubles, last month Fiat' Auto's share of the domestic Italian car market slumped to an all time low as foreign rivals made major inroads. Fiat Group sales of 64,950 units, which include the Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands was down 16.8% year on year. Figures from the transport ministry put market share at 33.2%, down from 33.1% a year earlier and almost 1% down from the previous month.

With the Italian market accounting for 37% of worldwide sales, the continuing slump in home market car sales is hindering the Auto division's attempts to stem its losses and claw its was back to profitability.

4th June 2002:  Lancia Thesis embarks on pre-introduction awareness campaign
click here to see and read more of the new Lancia Thesis luxury saloon's pre launch awareness program which has taken in various venues around Italy In keeping with Lancia's aim of launching the delayed Thesis as a top of the segment executive saloon, pre production models have been recently shown to exlusive gatherings at hand picked locations around Italy. This has included private stately homes and cultural exhibitions including music festivals and art galleries.
see more of the pre launch awareness programme

4rd June 2002:  Fiat Auto head denies restructuring talks with GM
In an interview yesterday, the head of Fiat Group's automotive division Fiat Auto SpA, Giancarlo Boschetti, said no restructuring talks or plans for a speeded up takeover of the company had been discussed with GM. Boscetti was confident that the current restructuring proposal on the table, which would see significant cost savings of around €600M in the next nine months which would mainly be achieved through implementing cost cutting measures would help Fiat satisfy banks and other creditors who are looking for a major shake up.

He added that the full programme would take "one or two years" to really produce the full benefits, and he expected the Lancia Thesis, due to go on sale in September, to be a major contributor to the turnaround once the costs savings of its joint Alfa Romeo/Saab floorpan clicked in.

3rd June 2002:  Fiat Auto add new Palio to restructuring plan
click here for a World Car Project update Fiat Auto boss, Giancarlo Boschetti, has revealed that Fiat plan to introduce a completely new Palio on a dedicated platform as part of its current restructuring plans. Originally it was planned that the Palio would be restyled in 2003 with the new Punto, due in 2005, forming the basis of the next "World Car". However Fiat have cancelled the restyling and now plan to introduce a completely new Palio  in 2006, which is expected to be developed in partnership with GM.
more on the "new Palio"

2nd June 2002:  Ferrari 550 Maranello takes first FIA GT Championship win of the year
Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini drove a textbook race from lights to flag to score Ferrari's first win in the 2002 FIA GT Championship in the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello at Jarama in Spain. Click here for full race report including coverage of the N-GT class Ferrari 360 Modenas In blistering heat at the Jarama track in Spain, Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz scored Ferrari's first win of the season at round 3 of the FIA GT Championship. Pole-sitter Piccini pulled away from the field at the start and was never threatened all afternoon, the BMS Scuderia Italian-run, Prodrive-developed Ferrari 550 Maranello eventually finishing over half a minute ahead of the second place Carsport Holland Chrysler Viper.
race report

1st June 2002:  Fiat to reduce number of platforms to nine as part of restructuring plans
the proposed restructuring of Fiat Auto's platforms has now been widened to include an all new Palio replacement. Click here for full details of Fiat's restructuring proposals Heavily in debt and with banks and shareholders demanding major changes, Fiat Auto has finalised a restructuring plan which will see the number of platforms within the Auto group reduced from the current 15, to nine by the end of the decade. To reduce costs all the new platforms are expected developed jointly with GM.
full detail of the nine platform plan

30th May 2002:  impression of forthcoming Fiat Stilo stationwagon
Artists impression of howa future Fiat Stilo stationwagon might look, based on Stilo styling cues Artists impression of how the Fiat Stilo stationwagon, due at the end of this year, might look, based on current Fiat styling cues

28th May 2002:  facelifted Multipla launched with three eco-friendly versions now available
The revolutionary Fiat Multipla MPV, a former "Car of the Year", has undergone its mid-life facelift, with emphasis being given to making eco-friendly options available.

Immediately recognisable by its optional colour coded and reworked bumpers, the Multipla offers redesigned interiors with upgraded trim levels, a larger interior space with features added to improve accessiblity, greater safety features include air-bags which drop down to afford geater side-impact protection, while suspension has been reworked all round along with enhanced braking capabilities.

Fiat have particulary worked on "eco-friendly" models with three now being available: the "BiPower" features dual petrol/methane option, the "BluPower, runs on methane and the Gpower is a very clean petrol/LPG engine which has an enhanced fuel range due to it releasing LPG directly into the cylinder heads through specially designed jets.
click here for full detail of the new 2002 Fiat Multipla including eco-friendly versions and to view a high resolution image gallery
click here for full detail of the new 2002 Fiat Multipla including eco-friendly versions and to view a high resolution image gallery
click here for full detail of the new 2002 Fiat Multipla including eco-friendly versions and to view a high resolution image gallery
see the new Multipla, including the eco-friendly versions in full detail, and view high resolution image gallery

25th May 2002:  Ferrari/Maserati reveal records sales figures for 2001
the Maserati relaunch continued apace, the Coupe and Spyder models proving a sales hitThe Ferrari Group which includes the Maserati luxury sportscar brand has reveral record figures sales figures to back up their continuing on track success. Alongside winning the Formula 1 drivers and manufacturer's titles for a second year running, a total of 6,158 Ferrari's and Maserati's were sold in 2001, and the books saw a marked increase in orders.

Turnover was a fraction over €1 billion, 18% up on 2000. Nett profit at €47 million was up by more than 600%. 2001 saw the main stages of the Maserati relaunch completed with the Coupe and Spyder models proving a sales success. Ferrari and Maserati were represented in 43 countries worldwide. Ferrari saw a biggest sales increase in Austria up 43% while Canada was up 20%. Maserati, relaunched in several countries, saw sales in Finland and the Far East up by over 60%.

Another success for Ferrari saw the limited run Ferrari 550 Barchetta, approved, built and delivered in less than a year.

24th May 2002:  Continuing delays with Lancia Thesis put Stationwagon on backburner
See the Lancia Thesis Saloon in detail: including developement, technical specification, performance figures, model variants and high resolution image gallery Continuing delays with Lancia's new Thesis saloon, replacement for the now discontinued Kappa, has seen resources concentrated on eliminating the models teething problems and efforts concentrated on getting the saloon to the showrooms for its now planned September launch, leaving the proposed Stationwagon variant "on ice" for the immediate future.
view the Lancia Thesis in complete detail
view Lancia Thesis high resolution images

23rd May 2002:  Alfa 156 replacement becoming more GM influenced that originally envisaged
click here to see more impressions of the Alfa Romeo 157 Expected to be known as the Alfa Romeo 157, the replacement for the hugely successful 156 saloon will appear on a GM/Fiat developed platform, expected to be as used on the new GM Vectra, and is believed to be much more strongly influenced by GM engineering than was envisaged when the project was started.
view artist's impressions of how the Alfa Romeo 157 may look

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