With just days to go before its investors meeting later this week, it's back to the drawing board for Bertone. According to emerging reports, a proposed deal that would have seen Fiat come to the rescue for the struggling coachbuilder and design house with a manufacturing contract has fallen through.
The plan was for Bertone to build up to 15,000 units of a Lancia-badged hard-top convertible based on the Fiat Grande Punto, previewed by such Bertone concepts as the Suagna (unveiled in Paris) and the 95th anniversary barchetta (pictured, shown in Geneva). After extensive negotiations, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne announced the deal was simply "not a financially viable business case". The deal reportedly fell apart after the two parties came to a deadlock over the number of staff members required to execute the contract, with Fiat insisting that half of Bertone's 1500 person workforce be cut. A contract for Bertone to build camper vans based on the Iveco Daily commercial van will reportedly still go through, but that will only require 200 people to execute.
The convertible, it was decided, will instead be build in-house along the same assembly line as its Grande Punto sibling. Like its rivals, Bertone has been struggling to remain a viable enterprise. Watching such a stoic name like Bertone fold would be a shame, but if its continued operations are to be secured, the Italian design house is going to have to face staggering cutbacks.
[Source: Automotive News via Motor Authority]