While visiting Fiat's gearbox plant in Verrone, Italy the other day, Chrysler board member Alfredo Altavilla let slip that the Italian giant and its newly-acquired Detroit automaker are working together to build an electric car. Chrysler hasn't been talking up its ENVI electric vehicle skunkworks of late and, although they have said they still plan on producing the Dodge Circuit, the silence has served to create speculation.
Bosch has long been a major supplier of many different automotive components to Fiat, and the company is hoping to leverage that association with the new Chrysler. Bosch provides a higher proportion of the parts and systems that go into the Italian cars than they ever have had at Chrysler. However, as new upcoming Chrysler vehicles move to Fiat-based platforms (and, presumably, powertrains), Bosch parts may further infiltrate Auburn Hills.
According to The Detroit News, the United Auto Workers is giving its blessings to a potential Chrysler-Fiat tie-up. Chrysler honcho Bob Nardelli earlier pegged the possible union as a $10 billion bonanza for Chrysler, since the Pentastar would save money on developing a range of platforms, engines, and cars. The UAW's interest is, of course, the job savings: the partnership has been said to be worth 5,000 jobs that might otherwise be lost.
Remember Project Genesis? That was Chrysler's internal name for its push to consolidate all of its dealerships into single outlets carrying the automaker's entire line of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. That laudable goal was a big deal last year when the automaker sought to streamline its model line and bolster the cachet of each of its brands. Today? Not so much. Detroit's number tres is concerning itself more with keeping lights on and the doors open.
The ink isn't even dry yet on the deal between Chrysler and Fiat, but design executives from both automakers are slated to begin meeting next week to discuss collaboration on future products and how Fiat's current offerings can be adapted for Chrysler's needs.
The conference room where Chrysler and Fiat worked out Fiat's 35% stake in the Pentastar probably still smells like hors d'oeuvres and bottled water, and already a Congressman is thinking about making Chrysler return its $4 billion dollar bridge loan.