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Fiat UK planning to take advantage of US expertise

Date: 24 April 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Fiat's UK arm is planning to capitalise on the technology, platforms and sub-brands that belong to the Italian  company's US subsidiary Chrysler.

Speaking to BusinessCar, Fiat UK MD Steve Zanlunghi, said: "Obviously we've got Abarth and we've also got [Chrysler's] SRT. We're looking to see how we could expand that in the UK, specifically in the Chrysler/Jeep brand.

"We're getting better at building and designing vehicles for Europe with the Chrysler/Jeep brand. We weren't very good but there's been a lot of cross pollination of platforms.

"We're doing a pretty good job of sharing technology across both sides of the Atlantic."

Zanlunghi, who worked with Chrysler before moving to head up Fiat's UK operation in August 2012, confirmed that the group would soon be using a nine-speed automatic gearbox manufactured by transmission specialist ZF in its vehicles, most likely SUVs such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

This follows Land Rover's recent announcement regarding using the same nine-speed transmission in its vehicles. He also said that the next Grand Cherokee will "have lower emissions and it will be smoother".

On the subject of alternative fuels, Zanlunghi said Fiat had looked at electric vehicles but did not see them as a viable long-term prospect: "There is a 500 electric car in California. We're dabbling in that at the moment because we think [electric] is a short-term fix and expensive.

"CNG [compressed natural gas - popular in Europe but not in the UK] is a very good, real and cheap source of energy. It's one of the ways forward."