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Published: Friday, 5/25/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Fiat is willing to construct Mazdas at its plants globally

REUTERS

BELVIDERE, Ill. -- Italian automaker Fiat SpA is open to expanding a newly announced partnership with Mazda Motor Corp. and building the Japanese automaker's vehicles at Fiat and Chrysler Group LLC factories worldwide.

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, added that Fiat was open to other partnerships to help lower the automaker's costs and expand its global reach.

"We will continue to look at other bilateral arrangements," Mr. Marchionne told reporters on the sidelines of an event at a Chrysler plant in Belvidere. "We're totally open."

Fiat and Mazda announced Wednesday that they were working together on developing and manufacturing a roadster, or two-seater convertible, although the automakers said they would come up with different, distinctly styled models. And each company would use its own engine.

"The economics make it very difficult" for most automakers to continue to produce all their own platforms and powertrains, Mr. Marchionne told reporters. "We're willing to engage in discussions with anyone else."

At the Belvidere Assembly Plant, Chrysler builds the Dodge Dart compact car, the first vehicle to be offered from a platform developed by Fiat and Chrysler. Chrysler builds Jeeps at its Toledo Assembly complex.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marchionne said there was a "better than 50 percent chance" that Fiat would boost its stake in Chrysler by 3.3 percent in July. Fiat took management control and a 20 percent stake in Chrysler three years ago when the No. 3 U.S. automaker emerged from a government-funded bankruptcy. Fiat owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler, while the retiree health-care trust affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, the VEBA, owns the rest.

Starting in July, Fiat has the option to buy 40 percent of the VEBA's stake in Chrysler in small increments. Fiat can buy a maximum of 3.3 percent of Chrysler every six months. This option expires in 2016.

VEBA and its stake in Chrysler are managed by an independent fiduciary. In a statement, the trust said it had "no knowledge" of the arrangement.



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