TURIN, Italy -- Fiat Auto S.p.A. and General Motors are beginning to develop a common platform to replace the Fiat Stilo in 2007 and the Opel Astra about 2010. The bread-and-butter cars for the two makes have combined sales of about 1 million units annually.
The projected volume of the middle-range platform would approach the European industry's volume leader, Volkswagen Group's A3 platform, which had 1.1 million units last year.
GM and alliance partner Fiat already have two common vehicle architectures.
Fiat Auto CEO Giancarlo Boschetti said common platforms give Fiat and GM "a 5 percent reduction in production costs, but we are fighting like hell to reach 10 percent." The first common platform is the premium, created in late 2000 and already in an advanced phase of development at Saab. It will be the basis of the next Saab 9-5, the Alfa 156 and Spider replacements and some Opel niche products.
The second is the small architecture announced in February, to be used by the 2005 Fiat Punto replacement and by the 2006-07 Opel Corsa successor.
The premium architecture working team is based at Saab in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The small team of more than 100 employees is based in Turin. The new middle-range team is expected to be located at Opel headquarters in Russelsheim, Germany.
The Fiat Stilo, introduced in October, uses a new, dedicated platform, called C-frame. The next Opel Astra is expected to debut at the Frankfurt show in September 2003 and go on sale in spring 2004. It will use an evolution of the current Astra's T-platform.
Separately, Fiat-Lancia business unit product development director, Nevio di Giusto, clarified plans for Fiat's new world car program.
The current world car - the Palio - will be replaced worldwide by the next generation Punto, code-named project 199, with a Western European debut due in 2005.
This new world car program is for a smaller car than the Palio, about the size of the aging Uno that Fiat still produces in many developing markets. Fiat is looking for cooperation with GM on this project, hoping its world car might be used to replace the old Corsa-based Chevrolet Celta built in Latin America.