Fiat Goes From 500 to 17 in 3 Years Flat

A newly revitalized Chrysler, and its corporate parent Fiat, got a lot of press last year when they introduced the new Fiat 500 subcompact car in the United States. (Putting J. Lo in the driver's seat didn't hurt).

Tuesday, the company grabbed headlines again, when Fiat CEO Sergo Marchionne announced plans to rev up idled Italian factories and produce 17 new Alfa Romeo-, Jeep-, and Maserati-badged Fiat models for sale in Europe by 2016.

A new Jeep will primarily target European buyers. As for the more luxurious Alfa Romeo and Maserati offerings, Marchionne says he is focusing on these upscale brands for their higher profit margins, reasoning that at high price points, such cars can be produced and exported profitably even if unfavorable exchange rates make other European products uncompetitive abroad.

Marchionne further noted that he is rolling back plans to build 6 million cars globally by 2014. The new target is to end 2012 with 4.2 million cars produced, and then gradually move toward 4.6 million to 4.8 million by 2014.

Earlier in the day, Fiat had reduced its full-year forecast, predicting that 2012 profits will exceed 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), and warning that "weak trading conditions" will extend from this year "well into 2013 and at least part of 2014."

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