Under one scenario, Chrysler could provide the factories and manpower, with Fiat covering retooling costs. Fiat could then sell the cars through Chrysler's dealer network.
On the flip side, Chrysler might be able to sell its vehicles in Europe through Fiat's dealer infrastructure. Less than 10% of Chrysler's sales volume comes from outside North America, and analysts say it needs more geographic diversity. Finally, Chrysler could use Fiat's small-vehicle platform to produce its own cars in that segment, saving itself the development costs.
Some analysts, however, said Monday that Chrysler's problems were too grave for an alliance with Fiat to make a difference. "The question is whether this is too little, too late," said Todd Turner, president of Car Concepts. "It seems like the horse has left the barn, and the barn is burning down."
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A tale of two automakers
Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Mich.
Chief executive: Robert Nardelli
Brands: Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Mopar (auto parts and accessories)
2008 sales: 2.01 million vehicles
Headquarters: Turin, Italy
Chief executive: Sergio Marchionne
Auto brands: Fiat, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia
2007 sales*: 2.23 million vehicles
Other products: Agricultural and construction equipment, trucks and commercial vehicles, car engines and components
* 2008 sales numbers not yet released
Source: Times staff reports