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Fiat: Small cars, big plans
After its Chrysler deal, Fiat bids for GM’s European brands—and the No. 2 global automaker rank
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talian automaker Fiat just finalized its partnership with Chrysler, said Damon Lavrinc in Autoblog, but apparently “Chrysler is only the beginning.” Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is also in serious talks to acquire General Motors’ European brands—Opel, Vauxhall, and Saab—to create an auto giant worth about $106 billion that would compete with Volkswagen to be the world’s No. 2 car company, after Toyota.

Fiat’s got a few hurdles before consummating Marchionne’s Opel “marriage made in heaven,” said Simon Sturdee in The Sydney Morning Herald, among them a rival offer from Canada’s Magna and skepticism from German government and union officials. But if his “audacious” plan works, Fiat will be one of the big “winners of the global recession.”

That was Marchionne’s plan, said Eric Reguly in The Globe and Mail. Last year he predicted that only about six big automakers would survive this recession, and he obviously hopes to be one. No other companies are aping his merger spree—yet—but expect several “virtual mergers,” soon. In a few years, “the Chrysler you buy will really be a closet Fiat or an Opel. The BMW you buy may be a Mercedes.”

Perhaps, said Aaron Gold in About.com. “But will Americans want to buy Fiats?” Car buyers here have “long memories,” and their 30-year-old memories of Fiat are best summed up by the acronym “Fix It Again, Tony.”

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