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Fiat SpA (F) is willing to team up with Mazda Motor Corp. (7261) on models and engines beyond a roadster that the automakers plan to build together, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said.
“We have one project where we shared the same objectives and to the extent that projects like that continue to be available, we’ll look at them,” he told reporters today at a Chrysler Group LLC factory in Belvidere, Illinois.
Fiat and Mazda said yesterday that they will jointly develop a sports car and discuss further cooperation in Europe. The project will yield a successor to Fiat’s Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider based on technology from Hiroshima, Japan-based Mazda’s MX-5 Miata, a person familiar with the matter said yesterday.
“I would be willing to make cars for Mazda anywhere in the world where I have capacity, including Chrysler plants,” Marchionne said today. Fiat, based in Turin, Italy, holds a majority stake in Chrysler.
Marchionne, 59, plans to merge Fiat and Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler and increase sales to more than 100 billion euros ($125 billion) by 2014. He has said he’s searching for a third partner to help counter overcapacity in Europe and boost sales in Asia, the group’s weakest region.
The Illinois factory where he spoke today assembles Chrysler’s new Dodge Dart small car. The plant is adding a third crew of workers in the third quarter to increase output of the Dart, which Marchionne has called the most important new model for Chrysler since Fiat took control of the automaker in 2009.
The Dart will be a measure of the effectiveness of the cooperation between Chrysler and Fiat, which took control during the U.S. company’s government-assisted bankruptcy. Fiat vowed to provide small-car expertise in exchange for scale that would spread fixed costs such as engineering and design. The Dart is Chrysler’s first car based on Fiat architecture.
Fiat boosted its ownership of Chrysler to 58.5 percent in January after committing to build a Dart that achieves 40 miles (64 kilometers) per gallon of gasoline. The United Auto Workers union’s retiree health-care trust owns the remaining stake.
Marchionne reiterated that he sees a likelihood of more than 50 percent that Fiat will exercise an option to boost its Chrysler stake. The option, which can be exercised starting July 1 and covers 40 percent of the UAW trust’s holdings, allows Fiat to buy as much as 8 percent of the trust’s interests every six months through June 2016, according to regulatory filings.
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