AMBITIOUS PLANS BEING PROPOSED COULD SEE FIAT AUTO INVEST IN CANADA
30.05.2006 - Source: http://www.italiaspeed.com/
With Alfa Romeo due to return to the North American markets next year, an even more ambitious longer-term plan being hatched could see Fiat also making their way back across the Atlantic, investing in the Ontario region of Canada.
The plan which would see Fiat Auto becoming involved in North America is being driven by Canada's Minister for Economic Development Joe Cordiano, an Italian-Canadian who has been working "in no uncertain terms" to persuade Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, another Italian-Canadian citizen, that the carmaker should consider investing in Canada. In an interview with Corriere Canadese/Tandem Marchionne would not rule out such a decision, but stressed it could only happen long-term.
Cordiano gave a lengthy speech to the North American Italian Chambers of Commerce last week which was focused on Marchionne, who had flown over to attend. The Fiat CEO actually grew up in Canada and holds a Canadian passport, and his mother lives in Toronto where he stayed overnight after the meeting before flying to Chicago. The Italian Ambassador to Canada Gabriele Sardo attended the meeting, as did a large number of regional politicians and businessmen.
The Minister outlined in detail why Fiat Auto should join the expanding number of companies that are currently investing in Ontario, a rapidly growing economic zone. The Ontario regional government are working to attract the presence of major international companies in the region by supporting what Cordiano described as a "culture of renewal" and by with assisting with research and marketing - reported Corriere Canadese/Tandem. Governmental initiatives in support of these investments will be increased and importantly grants and tax-relief will be available, with a particular emphasis being paid to the automotive industry.
"Promoting research and marketing its products," concluded Minister Cordiano, "links directly to our ability to boost productivity and defend and improve our citizens' quality of life."
Marchionne made his own short speech to the Chamber, saying that he had that very morning addressed two hundred international students at the St. Gallen University in Zurich, Switzerland, at a conference that was entitled 'Breaking with the Past'. He emphasised the turnaround in Fiat's fortunes since the had become CEO two years ago, saying that in June 2004 Fiat had been going through "the worst crisis in its glorious history." He added: "Things have dramatically changed, even though we are merely at the beginning of a long process, designed to bring our organization at the forefront of world markets without the oppressive relation with GM, and after consolidating basic economic footing more than adequate to our industrial needs." Marchionne emphasised how the carmaker's market share in Europe had been much improved this year, but stated that much work remained to be done.
Any prospective investment for Fiat Auto in Canada would not be their first involvement in North America, as almost a century ago, in their very formative years they briefly built cars in the United States. The Fiat Automobile Company was incorporated in 1908 in the United States and manufactured Fiat cars under license at a plant built in Poughkeepsie, New York, briefly.