What do you get for the automotive conglomerate that already owns almost every Italian marque in the industry? A legendary design house, of course. Fortunately for Fiat, independent coachbuilders like Bertone have been in a lot of financial trouble recently, as evidenced by Pininfarina's recent cuts.

At the Paris show, Bertone displayed the Suagna (pictured), an impressive coupe-cabriolet based on the Fiat Grande Punto platform. Now a rumored joint venture could see the Fiat group establishing a new company with Bertone to produce a car based on the Suagna concept. The reported idea would be for Bertone to supply "industrial assets" (i.e. the facilities) and the staff while Fiat pays for everything else.

[Source: Automotive News via Motor Authority]



The car would be produced as a Lancia in niche volumes, somewhere in the 15,000-20,000 range. Prior to its replacement by the new 207, Peugeot was producing about eight times that number of 206 CCs, and the market for compact hardtop convertibles has been growing as the segment becomes more and more popular. Fiat and Bertone have confirmed they're holding discussions, but the plan is far from finalized. If it does take off, insiders expect the new Lancia CC to hit the road sometime in 2009, when Fiat will have to carefully balance the pricing to keep it both competitive and profitable even at low volumes.