March 31st is the deadline Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli has given for completing negotiations between his company and Fiat and the US government in the hopes of avoiding filing for bankruptcy protection. Whether or not things will go to plan does, of course, remain to be seen—but a very interesting e-mail went out from Nardelli to his employees yesterday. If you want to read about it, you’ll have to follow the jump.
According to Nardelli’s e-mail, the value of a partnership with Fiat (in which Fiat would take a 35% stake in the company) is estimated to be worth about $10bn USD—or $1bn USD more than the $9bn USD in total that Chrysler has requested from the US government. He goes on to explain this number by saying that the gaining access to Fiat’s fuel-efficient designs and R + D would give them a significant competitive advantage of 4-5 years over what they’ve currently got. He also added that building Fiat vehicles in existing Chrysler plants in the US would help to preserve and/or create 5,000 manufacturing jobs within that country’s ailing economy.
This is, of course, all contingent upon Chrysler renegotiating other necessary items in order for it to obtain US government approval for this partnership to take place, including (but not limited to) union worker and bondholder concessions. So there’s still a lot of hurdles to jump in the next two weeks if they’re to reach their deadline on time. The Obama Administration, for its part, hasn’t completely left bankruptcy off the table as an option, either, saying they’ll do what they feel is best when presented with all of the information.
Either way this turns out, something rather large is about to happen. Something that could radically change the face of the auto industry in North America, and what we drive on our roads. It’s one thing to speculate about what would happen if we had a raft of Fiats and Alfas suddenly swanning through the countryside down long, twisty roads. It’s quite another to realize that it’s this close to either becoming a reality—or not.
Fingers crossed, everyone.
[Source: The Washington Post]