In many ways, the Chrysler-Fiat relationship seems like a marriage made in heaven.
When Chrysler was struggling to survive after emerging from bankruptcy, Sergio Marchionne arrived in Auburn Hills, Mich., bringing talent, treasure, technology and a plan. Some Americans grumbled that the government foolishly had steered Chrysler through bankruptcy only to hand the company on a platter to Fiat, which was likely to cherry pick the best parts and let the rest of the enterprise die.
Three years later, Fiat is struggling in the topsy-turvy European market -- especially in its home market of Italy -- but a much healthier, revitalized Chrysler is generating cash flow and profits that are propping up the entire organization. Now Italians worry that Fiat is withering and will become little more than a regional marketing appendage of Chrysler.
But the ebb and flow of the Chrysler-Fiat relationship is exactly why automakers forge global partnerships: to balance risks and redeploy assets in a variety of markets.
Still, Marchionne's decision to slash investments in Europe by 500 million euros (about $632 million) -- based on lowered expectations for the European market -- coupled with the plan to spend about $253 million to boost Fiat's stake in Chrysler by 3.3 percentage points to 61.8 percent hasn't helped ease Italian worries.
It's only natural for politicians, unions and other stakeholders to worry about the long-term ramifications of the relationship.
But it would be counterproductive -- and wrong -- for parochial interests to let the global partnership devolve into a feud akin to the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, just the way the U.S. automaker's last global relationship degenerated into the Daimlers vs. the Chryslers.
This time, reason must prevail.