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Fiat and GM must be feeling a little déjà vu

Fiat's deal to supply General Motors's Opel/Vauxhall with at least 250,000 units of a new light van range has some interesting background that must have executives at both companies experiencing a little déjà vu.

The Opel/Vauxhall Combo replacement will be based on Fiat's Compact platform, which was originally called SCCS (short for Small Common Components and Systems) when Fiat and GM started co-developing it in Turin in 2002.

The platform, which was part of the former partners' strategic alliance, underpins the Fiat Grande Punto, launched in 2005, and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa that arrived in 2006.

In addition, about a year ago Fiat was bidding to take over Opel from a struggling GM, which decided to keep control of its European unit.

Fiat wanted control of Opel to boost its global scale and because it sought GM's more modern compact and mid-sized platforms.

With the deal announced this week, Opel gets a bigger, more flexible vehicle to replace its Corsa-based Combo. It gets the van quickly and will spend a fraction of what it would have cost to do the van alone.

Fiat wins by boosting output of its platform 25 percent to about 1.3 million units.

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