Fiat SpA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who was re-elected Friday to head Europe's main carmaking lobby group, is taking his rivalry with Volkswagen AG in their home region overseas.
Marchionne, who also runs Chrysler Group LLC, is offering $1,000 rebates to current VW owners in the U.S., where VW is much smaller, to buy a Fiat or Chrysler Vehicle.
Marchionne has been in a war of words with VW over auto pricing in Europe, where VW commands 25 percent of the market, suggesting in July that the German automaker was creating a "bloodbath" in the region. Stephan Gruehsem, VW's chief spokesman, responded that Marchionne wasn't qualified to lead the ACEA lobby group.
The dispute, which included VW and Turin, Italy-based Fiat each threatening to quit the ACEA, highlighted a growing financial gap between German manufacturers with premium brands and their unprofitable, volume-oriented French and Italian counterparts, which are losing sales with low-margin, mid-range models.
Marchionne and VW CEO Martin Winterkorn faced off at an ACEA meeting at the Paris Motor Show on Sept. 28, a day after VW reiterated its call for the Italian to step down as the organization's head. The executives emerged from the session shaking hands, with Winterkorn saying that the "good friends" had "settled things" and Marchionne saying ACEA members decided to address overcapacity on their own.
Marchionne Friday was chosen for a second one-year term as president of the 16-member European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, the Brussels-based organization said in a statement. The post rotates yearly, with the position assigned by country for a two-year period.
Marchionne has used his term at the ACEA to call for cooperation among the region's carmakers, and backing from the EU, to close factories as the vehicle market shrinks for a fifth consecutive year. Wolfsburg-based VW, which controls the Audi and Porsche luxury brands, has been among German carmakers resisting the strategy.
"One of the highest priorities for ACEA next year will be to continue to push for a meaningful and supportive" European Union industrial policy, the lobbying association said.
Volkswagen is Europe's largest carmaker, with its group 10- month market share rising 1.5 percentage points to 24.8 percent. That compares with a 0.7-point decline to 6.4 percent for Fiat. The ACEA is forecasting that European car sales this year will drop to the lowest level since 1995.
The two automakers are among the top performers in the U.S. market this year. Combined sales of VW, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini brands rose 31 percent in the first 11 months, boosting VW's group market share to 4 percent from 3.5 percent, according to Autodata. Chrysler Group sales rose 22 percent, lifting its share to 11.4 percent from 10.5 percent.
The U.S. rebate offer is only for buyers who currently own or lease a VW vehicle, according to Chrysler's website. Customers don't even have to give up their VW to qualify.
ALFA ROMEO COMING SOON TO RICK CASE FIAT
Better late than never, Alfa Romeo announces the scheduled arrival of their 4C sports car to American soil by 2013. First, an Alfa Romeo 4C prototype will make an appearance in the middle of next year before the Italian automaker's official return to North America.
More than just a pretty face, the Alfa Romeo 4C will feature an aluminum direct-injection 1.8 liter turbo on a tube-mounted aluminum frame. Weighing in at a feathery 1,980 lbs, the 4C will use sheet-molded composite panels to wrap around its aluminum bones. The Alfa Romeo 4C is expected to deliver approximately 230-hp and should be capable of 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. Fiat engineering chief Mauro Pierallini says Alfa Romeo will build 18,000 4C's over the lifetime of the car and that it will be sold in the United States along with the Giulia sedan as well as Alfa Romeo's first . Executives suggest the Alfa Romeo 4C's price tag targets $45,000 USD.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergia Marchionne boldly explained that the 159 that the Giulia will replaced was, "400 kg too heavy and by default uncompetitive. We will never, ever do this again. The next Giulia had better smell, look, and like an Alfa or it will not wear the badge. We need to resurrect Alfa in the proper way."
If Marchionne is so adamant on building proper Alfas, then there is no reason why Alfa Romeo shouldn't be a hit when it comes stateside.
2012 FIAT 500: Fun and style in a very small package, Portland (Ore.) Tribune
The 2012 Fiat 500 American version maintains the quirky charm of the original Fiat 500, the Portland (Ore.) Tribune said. It is genuinely retro and cute; people looked at it everywhere, especially women, who seemed to find it amusing, the paper said. The interior also seems genuinely old-school Italian, with a simple dash and attention to creature comforts, the article said. The six-speed automatic is remarkably sophisticated, the article said. The Fait 500 proved itself to be a surprisingly fun and solid driver - the suspension is firm without being harsh, offering something that is missing in most cars these days - genuine road feel, the article said.
11/21/11 - 09:00 AM EST
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The all-new 2012 Fiat 500 performed alongside Jennifer Lopez during her performance of "Papi," at the 2011 American Music Awards® (AMAs) held at the NOKIA Theatre L.A. on Sunday evening.
"The FIAT Brand is honored to share the stage with Jennifer Lopez at the 2011 American Music Awards, her drive and determination is the common thread that is shared with the brand and our philosophy that 'Life is Best When Driven,'" said Olivier Francois, CEO of the FIAT Brand. "This appearance allows us to continue to expose the 2012 Fiat 500 to a wide demographic. These past few days have been momentous for FIAT as we have recently revealed the all-new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show."
This September, the FIAT Brand announced its collaboration with Lopez, which included placement of the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio in Lopez's music video, "Papi," as well as a 30-second trailer of the video, featuring the vehicle. Lopez also appears in two additional commercials for the brand, " My World" and "Elegance," which features the Fiat 500 Cabrio and the Fiat 500 by Gucci models.
About the American Music Awards In 1973 Dick Clark created the American Music Awards to pay tribute to popular musicians from various genres of music and to put audiences in touch with the latest phenomena in American music. Since its founding, the AMAs have honored and showcased the talents of some of the biggest names in the music industry.
About the FIAT BrandThe FIAT brand stands for discovery through passionate self-expression. It encourages people to be in charge of their lives, live confidently and celebrate the smallest of things with infectious excitement. That philosophy is embodied by the North American introduction of the iconic Fiat 500 or Cinquecento ? a small car that lives big. Italian at heart and rooted in a rich heritage, the 500 is synonymous with modern simple design blending form, function and a pride of ownership that is genuine.
Reminiscent of the original Cinquecento, the 2012 Fiat 500 and Fiat 500c (Cabrio) build on the vehicle's global popularity. Since its initial launch in 2007, more than 500,000 Fiat 500 vehicles have been sold in more than 80 countries around the world. The model's unquestionable popularity is the result of the Fiat 500's great ability to deliver unmatched personalization options with advanced solutions in terms of quality, engine and passenger comfort. In addition to success on the sales front, the Fiat 500 has earned more than 60 international awards, including being named the 2008 European Car of the Year, 2009 World Car Design of the Year and Best New Engine of 2010 (FIAT MultiAir® Turbo).
Favorite upcoming cars from the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, Road & Track
Among Road & Track magazine's favorite cars from the L.A. Auto Show is the Fiat 500 Abarth. We're not too fond of scorpions, unless they're emblazoned on the side of one of these Abarths that are so onto be on the market, the magazine said. A turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 160 bhp, and a steering wheel-wrenching 170 lb.-ft. of torque will flow through a stronger 5-speed manual transmission, the article said. Its size makes the 500 Abarth a natural city car, but its power should make for an exciting drive on the track, the magazine said.
Daily News Summary from Chrysler Group
Nov. 9, 2011
Somehow the design of the quirky little Fiat 500 commuter car comes off as Audrey Hepburn charming, the Globe and Mail (Toronto) said. It is not a car you buy using logic alone - you are most definitely saying something about yourself when you buy a 500, the paper said. The ride is comfortable, the seats decently supportive, and Fiat wisely installed a pod of cup holders up front and added two more in the rear, the article said. More than anything, though, the 500's soft, round roofline is its most distinguishing characteristic - there is nothing else like it for sale in Canada, the article said.So we have a charismatic, fuel-efficient and incredibly cute little car with a nice little back story - the original put the Italian masses on wheels, the article said. The car looks and feels solid enough, and the materials and workmanship are better than anything Tony fixed three decades ago, the article said. In traffic, the 500 is nimble but not fast, its narrow body and quick electric power steering are ideal, the article said. The 500 story is all about driving a little car with a high cute factor, very good fuel economy and in-the-city handling, the Globe and Mail said.