DETROIT -- Chrysler Group, which soon will integrate Fiat engines and transmissions into its lineup, gave its powertrain unit more clout today by bringing it more directly under the control of CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Chrysler named Paolo Ferrero as senior vice president of Chrysler Powertrain, a new post. Ferrero, who was vice president of product engineering at Fiat Powertrain Technologies in Turin, will report directly to Marchionne, effective immediately.
The appointment increases the importance of the powertrain group. Previously, Chrysler's head of powertrain engineering reported to the head of product development.
Robert Lee, Chrysler's head of powertrain engineering, remains employed by the company, said spokeswoman Shawn Morgan. “We're still in the process of restructuring that area,” she said.
Ferrero will “provide indirect oversight of powertrain manufacturing, testing quality and international operations,” Chrysler said in a statement.
A key selling point of Chrysler's alliance with Fiat was the Italian carmaker's lineup of small fuel-efficient engines and transmissions.
Fiat has developed a technology called MultiAir, which improves fuel efficiency and performance of smaller gasoline engines. The first car equipped with a MultiAir engine will be the Alfa Romeo MiTo compact, to be launched in Europe toward the end of this year. Chrysler has not announced when it will launch North American vehicles with MultiAir. Fiat also has a dual-clutch transmission, another fuel-saving technology.
The Ferrero announcement comes as Chrysler shifts away from engineering and product development partnerships it entered during the DaimlerChrysler and Cerberus Capital Management ownership eras.
Chrysler announced in August that it would take sole ownership of the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance engine plant in Dundee, Mich. The factory makes four-cylinder engines for several Chrysler vehicles, including the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Compass and Patriot.
The plant formerly was a joint venture with Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
Fiat took 20 percent ownership of Chrysler when the American carmaker emerged from bankruptcy in June. Fiat can increase its stake in Chrysler to as much as 35 percent if it hits certain goals. One of those goals is to make a small, fuel-efficient engine in North America.