Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ahhhh, the twists and turns

Of global car manufacturing, I mean. I just read this: The ongoing international saga surrounding Jaguar and Land Rover may be gaining an Italian player in the not too distant future. Italy's Fiat, one of the automakers approach by Ford when it first put its British luxury brands on the block, is interested in collaborating with Tata-owned Jaguar/Land Rover.

I had just written this, elsewhere: An iconic powerhouse like Ford is dumping its prestige brands one by one, raising cash for a last gasp attempt at survival, or just getting rid of failing brands. Does this say anything about the US economy, or US car companies in general, or US car company management vision? Probably a yes in all 3 boxes. From Fairfax: US automaker Ford has agreed to sell its luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors for more than $US2 billion ($A2.2 billion), a source familiar with the deal says. So what does this say about India's economy, or the growth of Tata (a company that has fingers in many pies and plans to sell a super-cheap small car around the world)?

So Ford sells off its prestige brands to an up-and-comer in India, who presumably sees profit in the deal (hoping to buy street cred and brand awareness, perhaps?). Ford shrinks back to core competencies, like building gas-guzzling fat cars that will sink like a stone when global warming really kicks in. And FIAT? Well for starters they could do with a big real-wheel-drive platform like the big Jag's, and a 4WD platform like Landrover's for Alfa. Maybe.

Maybe what they really want are dealerships in the US, through which to sell US-bound Alfas? And maybe it ties in somehow with this idea: According to the Financial Times, Fiat Group's chief executive says the company is discussing potential build of Alfa Romeo cars in North America with GM, Ford and Chrysler but as yet, no partner has been selected.

Or maybe not: Fiat SpA could choose BMW as partner to produce its Alfa Romeo model in the US as of 2011, the daily MF said, citing sources close to Fiat.

What a prospect. The Alfa Mi.To is launched into head to head US sales competition with the BMW-built MINI... and Alfa team up with BMW to manufacture cars in the US. Maybe even the Mi.To...

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