Fiat Plans To Use Chrysler's Canadian Plants

MONTREAL (CP) -- Fiat SpA chief executive Sergio Marchionne says the Italian automaker fully intends to utilize Chrysler's Canadian plants in southern Ontario after the Italian company buys a stake in the ailing U.S. car manufacturer.

Marchionne says there's a collective view that Chrysler's assembly lines in Canada are efficient and churn out quality products.

Fiat is on the verge of taking control of a 20 per cent share in Chrysler, pending the completion of bankruptcy court procedures in New York.

The Italian carmaker has been plotting a return to North America, where it last sold cars two decades ago.

It would gain access to Chrysler's dealer network, while the U.S. company would expand into Fiat's international markets.

Marchionne says he hopes Fiat can work with Canadian auto workers, a relationship that he acknowledges got off to a bumpy start. The CAW, however, managed a cost-cutting deal that helps save Chrysler Canada on labour costs at its plants.

The Windsor, Ont.-based automaker, with more than 9,000 employees, operates vehicle assembly plants in the southwestern Ontario border city of Windsor as well as Brampton, just northwest of Toronto, and a parts plant in Toronto.

Marchionne, a dual Canadian-Italian citizen, says that while Fiat cannot substitute Chrysler's judgment on the North American market, it can offer technical expertise on how to produce smaller, more efficient cars.

The company has been developing a new fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning engine it hopes to put into its new vehicles.

More in Operations