September 26, 2009

Chrysler eyes Fiat tech for midsize sedans

Officials of U.S. automaker Chrysler Group LLC are determining how to use Fiat expertise to build future products such as midsize sedans, sources say.

Quoting an unnamed person familiar with the board's agenda, The Detroit News reported Chrysler's nine-member board of directors on Friday discussed the flagging sales of Chrysler's key midsize sedan segment and how to apply the engineering and technical expertise of Fiat -- which now manages the automaker -- to such underperforming models as the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger.

Also reportedly discussed at the board meeting was where to build the brands. The News said hundreds of Chrysler workers who now make the midsize sedans in Sterling Heights, Mich., staged a protest Friday to denounce plans to close their assembly plant at the end of next year.

We think Chrysler made a mistake closing our plant, Bill Parker, president of United Auto Workers Local 1700, told the newspaper, noting that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has already moved to reverse some previous management decisions, such as keeping the Dodge Viper and Chrysler PT Cruiser after they were to be phased out, as well as to reinstate a third shift of Canadian minivan production.