Dealer network changes were expected to top retailers’ list of questions to newly appointed Fiat UK boss José Antonio Garvia.
Barrie Singleton, chairman of the Fiat Dealer Council, told AM he was surprised Fiat Group boss Sergio Marchionne had taken direct control of the troubled Auto division, because fired CEO Herbert Demel had less than 18 months in the role.
Singleton says: “I expect Volkswagen Group-style rationalisation of parts for the Fiat, Alfa, Lancia and Maserati brands. It makes you wonder what will happen with the dealer networks.”
Marchionne believes separation from GM “represents a fundamental step in Fiat Auto’s future – it is now possible to operate in total autonomy but also without alibis”.
But GM’s cash, which will help Fiat Auto fund new models, has to be weighed against the division’s debt of around £5.5bn.
Demel, a former Volkswagen and Audi executive, went soon after GM paid almost £1.07bn to free itself from a contractual ‘put’ responsibility to buy Fiat Auto. Fiat is thought to be seeking links with other manufacturers including DaimlerChrysler.