Fiat and General Motors will develop a third common platform to replace the Fiat Stilo in 2007 and the Opel Astra about 2010.
Fiat Auto CEO Giancarlo Boschetti said the 'Middle-range' architecture aimed at the biggest segment in western Europe would give the two partners a platform with annual volume of about 1 million units.
The projected volume would approach that of the Volkswagen group's A3 platform - 1.1 million units last year. It would also surpass that of the PSA/Peugeot-Citroen P2 platform and Nissan-Renault's shared platform debuting at September's Paris auto show with the second-generation Megane.
GM and alliance partner Fiat already have two common vehicle architectures.
The first 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 by 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 2006-2007 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, Italy. The new 'Middle-range' team is expected to be located at Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
Boschetti said common platforms already give Fiat and GM 'a 5 percent reduction in production costs, but we are fighting like hell to reach 10 percent.'
The Fiat Stilo, introduced in October 2001, 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 project 178 or Palio family - 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.