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Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Chrysler, LLC., FIAT, Rumormill

Chrysler may not be in the best of shape, but apart from the federal government, someone may be willing to throw the beleaguered automaker a lifeline. And it may prove to be a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Even before things went belly up in Detroit, reports indicate that Italian auto giant Fiat was in discussions with Chrysler executives about a potential collaboration. Europe's third largest automaker, which was previously in bed with General Motors, is eager to expand into the North American market, and America's third largest automaker is equally anxious to expand overseas. Thus, the two companies may be in a position to help each other out.

From Fiat's point of view, if it is going to bring the 500 and its Alfa Romeo marque to North America, it's going to need local manufacturing capacity and an established dealer network to tap into - both of which Chrysler can offer. Meanwhile, Chrysler needs small car platforms and engines to borrow in order to update its lineup (an area in which Fiat excels), as well as a framework to branch into the Latin American market (where Fiat is one of the most popular automakers). We'll have to wait and see how the negotiations proceed, if at all, but compared to some of the other mergers we've seen floated as of late, this looks like a match made in Detroit heaven.

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