Special Coverage

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Auto Show

GENEVA – Italy’s Fiat Automobiles SpA Chairman Luca di Montezemolo met with India’s Tata Motors Co. Ltd. Chairman Ratan Tata at the back of a new Tata 4x4 pickup truck to hash out quality questions for Fiat’s 2008 production of the vehicle in Argentina.

Fiat will license Tata’s pickup design but plans to sell the vehicles in Latin America and some European countries as Fiats, with Fiat engines. Montezemolo and Tata talked about the finish quality required in Latin America.

The two auto makers, which signed their agreement in late February, have several joint ventures together. In India, Tata builds the Fiat Palio and Siena compact cars for sale in its own dealerships.

Production will begin next year on the TL pickup at Fiat Automovies SA’s plant in Cordoba. Fiat will invest $80 million for capacity of 20,000 units. Cordoba also is involved in a deal with PSA Peugeot Citroen to produce gearboxes for the French auto maker.

Fiat is expected to make cosmetic changes to the Tata pickup in order to differentiate it. It will be available as a 4x4 or 4x2 in double and single cab styles. Engines will include the 2.3L JTD diesel Fiat builds in Sete Lagoas, Brazil.

Tata is considering offering some of its own products in Latin America through cooperative ventures with Fiat and its truck subsidiary Iveco SpA for manufacturing and distribution.

Ratan Tata says the pickup truck agreement is “the first step” in expanding Tata’s relationship with the Fiat Group on a global basis.

And while he says he is not envious of the rapid growth of several Chinese brands, “I am impressed by what they have done. I wish some people in India would see that,” the Tata chairman says.

In addition to the pickup, Tata unveils a luxury concept car, the Elegante, at the show. While officially a concept, the Elegante is in finished form, designed to meet European crash and emission standards. Engines proposed for the car include a 2.0L diesel and V-6 gasoline engine.