Adapting to reality

Job cuts at Fiat; dealer network growing; production offensive continues

Frankfurt, Germany. It's official: Fiat is reducing its German work force by approximately 15 percent.

Management and works council are currently preparing on a social plan that should become effective at the end of March.

The number of staff has already fallen below 300 from 308 since last November as a result of natural fluctuations. "We are adapting our organization to the lower sales figures," a spokesman says.

Last year the group sold 81,400 new cars (minus 7.5 percent) in Germany. Of that total, 14,200 were Alfa Romeos, 63,800 Fiats and 3,400 were Lancia models.

Sales boss Manfred Kantner expects a further drop in sales in 2005. "We will no longer use unprofitable distribution channels. This will have an effect on volume."

Dealer association spokesman Friedrich Karl Bonten is relieved that "a stop is being put to self-delusion and pretence."

According to internal plans, Kantner expects to sell 55,000 Fiat models at the most. The Alfa Romeo sales target lies at around 16,000 cars.

The dealer network should continue to grow. This should help selling the total of 17 new and 11 restyled models that Fiat development boss Harald J. Wester is planning to launch by 2007.

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