In order to sell Fiat or Fiat-based vehicles in North America, Chrysler will likely have to build them in North America. In order to do that, the automaker may need to build a new assembly plant.
"There are a few options we're digging into, including a new plant," Chrysler’s Senior VP of Manufacturing Scott Garberding told Automotive News at the Detroit Auto Show last week.
In exploring the possibility of a new plant, Chrysler has been looking at a number of sites, but Garberding declined to specify where they might be. He also declined to say when Chrysler might make a final decision, but pointed out that the company has time to consider its options since it has slashed its product development time.
Of course, building a whole new factory is a money-intensive process, so Chrysler is exploring other options. The primary alternative, according to Garberding, is to retool existing assembly lines at some Chrysler plants in North America to build the new Fiat-based models, provided the remaining plants have the capacity to do so. This strategy is already expected to play out later this year when the Chrysler PT Cruiser is finally put down and the space on the production line in Toluca, Mexico, is replaced with the Fiat 500 minicar. That's the first Fiat coming to the U.S. under the merged Fiat and Chrysler.
The first new products born out of Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler are expected to appear in calendar year 2012. They are expected to be new compact and midsize offerings from Chrysler built on Fiat platforms using efficient Fiat engines and drivetrains.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)