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Fiat said to be in talks with Chrysler

The Italian carmaker has been looking for ways to get back into the U.S. for some time, and an alliance could help save the troubled Detroit company. Some say its problems are too grave, however.

January 20, 2009|Ken Bensinger

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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ken.bensinger@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A tale of two automakers

CHRYSLER

Founded: 1925

Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Mich.

Chief executive: Robert Nardelli

Employees: 53,995

Brands: Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Mopar (auto parts and accessories)

2008 sales: 2.01 million vehicles

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FIAT

Founded: 1899

Headquarters: Turin, Italy

Chief executive: Sergio Marchionne

Employees: 185,000

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

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