The first benefits of General Motors' alliance with Fiat on powertrain developments will be the use of Italian-manufactured diesel engines in 2003 in either the Vauxhall Corsa or Astra. The GM-Fiat alliance in the areas of powertrain and purchasing was announced last year and is now becoming operational.
General Motors Europe president Mike Burns said that he expected the American manufacturer's engine development capability to lean towards petrol with Fiat developing diesel engines. That is likely to see diesel engines sourced from Fiat for cars while larger capacity diesel engines continue to be sourced from Isuzu, in which General Motors also has a stake.
General Motors was another manufacturer at the Geneva motor show to talk-up its increased focus on diesel vehicle production with Mr Burns saying: “Two years ago we were not where we needed to be on diesel. In western Europe diesel sales are 37-38% of new car sales and we are close to that. We have caught up but we need to go further. Our alliance with Fiat will help that move.”
Vehicle manufacturers are grappling with reducing costs globally. Mr Burns said: “Some manufacturers in Europe may struggle with the economies of being single digit market share players and we have found a way with Fiat to spread our production and development costs over a much larger base and we will begin to see some early benefits.”