3 March 2005

The revolution at Fiat Auto has taken a dramatic turn with a massive shake-up of management and news of deals with its erstwhile partner, General Motors. Fiat and GM will still co-operate on some new projects, including plans to ‘federalize’ (adapt for US market regulations) the new Premium platform which underpins the forthcoming Alfa Romeo 159 and Brera.

Industry reports say that GM will also supply its Northstar V8 engine (right) to Alfa-Maserati for use in the Premium platform. The Northstar is unique in that it can be mounted sideways in the engine bay. These two moves will help Alfa Romeo launch cars in the US as well as giving Maserati a V8 version of the Premium platform on which to base future models.

There are also rumours that development of Maserati’s almost-complete new Spyder will be halted. It could be re-worked as Ferrari’s new entry-level model, though the company denies this. Maserati would then replace the Spyder and Coupé with V8 versions of the Alfa Brera/Brera cabrio.

Under the separation deal GM can also use the Premium platform for future models. This platform, along with the new Corsa/Punto chassis, can also be sold to third parties. Indeed, Fiat says it will be looking to co-operate with other makers on a model-by-model basis. One suggestion is that it could tie-up with Merc’s troubled Smart brand.

l Martin Leach has been removed from his post as Maserati chief and replaced by Karl-Heinz Kalbfell. Kalbfell will be CEO of Alfa and Maserati as well as the new Alfa-Maserati ‘sports car brand’. And Frank Stephenson – ex Maserati-Ferrari design chief – is now boss of the Fiat, Lancia and Commercial Vehicle Styling centre.

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