Fiat – the one other automakers most want to do business with

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Fiat is on an all-time high, confirmed by the company’s chief executive Sergio Marchionne who last week raised the car maker’s expected trading profit for 2006 from 250 million euros to 275 million euros (R2,6 billion). This latest news comes in the wake of some interesting developments involving Fiat’s cooperation with other car manufacturers.

Firstly, Fiat’s agreement with the PSA Group (Peugeot and Citroën) is forging ahead as Sergio Marchionne and Jean-Martin Folz, Chief Executive Officer of PSA, recently unveiled a new family of jointly produced compact light commercial vehicles at the Sevel Nord plant in Northern France. The newcomers which will be launched in Europe early in 2007 succeed the Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert and Citroën Dispatch and, and keep their respective names.

These new compact light commercial vehicles are available in a broad range of body styles with volumes of 5 to 7m3 and payloads of 1,000 and 1,200 kg, allowing business users to select the right vehicle for their specific business needs.

In addition, the two groups are extending their ranges with a new passenger vehicle offering, the combi-van, a van-based large MPV seating up to nine passengers.

Following the renewal of their larger light commercial vehicle ranges: the Citroën Relay, Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato, in May 2006, the two groups are continuing to rejuvenate their light commercial vehicle ranges.

Other collaboration news involves Chery Automobiles of China. Fiat Auto and the Chinese automaker have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) facilitating the supply of 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines for application in Fiat cars to be produced in China and outside China.

The two companies expect an annual supply exceeding 100,000 engines and are engaged to sign the definitive supply agreement before year end.

In a statement, Mr. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Fiat Auto, said, “The agreement with Chery will give us the opportunity to further increase the competitiveness of our product range on the international markets.

Chery is a young and modern company with a solid technical background and I am glad to welcome this further step in our strategy of targeted alliances. In the relation with Chery we see the potential for a wider cooperation both in powertrains and, eventually, in other automotive sectors.”

Mr. Yin Tongyao, President and General Manager of Chery Automobiles, said: “Fiat is a world famous auto company with a long history. The successful cooperation between Chery and Fiat Auto shows Fiat’s confidence and trust in Chery, and it is also an important step taking by Chery. The prospect of our cooperation is very promising.”

Earlier this year Fiat and Ford signed a definitive agreement to co-operate on the joint development and production of vehicles in the European small car (sub-B) segment, namely the new Fiat 500 and a replacement for the current Ford Ka. These new superminis will debut in 2007.