Sergio Marchionne is nothing if not a pragmatist, inking joint ventures with many different manufacturers worldwide to best leverage the company's assets, as well as add value to partnerships. The company's announcement of a joint venture with Mazda to build a new Alfa Romeo roadster on the next-generation Mazda Miata platform being a recent partnership of note.
Fiat also announced its plan to invest more than $700 million, out of a total of $900 million in its SevelSud plant in Italy, where it builds the Fiat Ducato, and the Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Jumper commercial van variants, according to Bloomberg. Fiat and Peugeot already jointly produce several models at the plant. The plant is located in the city of Atessa, near Italy's eastern central Adriatic coast. Peugeot is reportedly investing nearly $1 billion in its SevelNord facility in Valenciennes, France.
The new agreement runs through 2019, but Marchionne said consideration of further investment in Italy would be contingent on relaxing of work rules and concessions from Italy's labor unions. Fiat is currently in a legal battle with the Fiom trade union over longer shifts and shorter breaks. Marchionne said Fiat "won't put its survival at risk" just for symbolic, patriotic gestures of further investment in its home market.
The next-generation Ducato will likely influence the design and features of the next-generation Ram ProMaster van. The current-generation of Ducato launched as a 2007 model in Europe, and the ProMaster was just introduced to the U.S. in 2014. If design and engineering on the new vans is coordinated globally, the U.S. could see a new ProMaster much sooner than the typical 7-year product cycle. The Ram ProMaster
is built in Saltillo, Mexico, for North American markets.