Fiat to reach 58.5 percent in Chrysler by the end of the year image

Italian car-maker Fiat expects to raise its stake in Chrysler to 58.5 per cent by the end of this year after it achieves a pre-set performance target, the company said in slides on Tuesday.

Fiat also expects to break even on its European operations by 2014.

However, Marchionne, who runs both Fiat and U.S. automaker Chrysler Group LLC, is struggling to boost European sales as Fiat posts losses in its biggest market and continues to lose ground to competitors.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Frankfurt Auto Show, Marchionne expressed frustration at Europe’s spiraling debt crisis, which threatens to engulf Fiat’s key market of Italy. It already is sapping consumer confidence with sales in Italy forecast at around 1.8 million this year, the lowest since 1983.

Fiat Spa has a 53.5 per cent majority stake in US car manufacturer Chrysler Group LLC and is looking to combine the companies to create a global automaker. The market volatility, however, makes it impossible for the moment to float Chrysler shares on the markets.

Alfa Romeo return in U.S.
On the same time, Fiat’s Alfa Romeo division won’t return to North America before 2013 as the brand delays introducing some models, including the 4C sports car that was supposed to be its first vehicle on sale in the U.S.

The delay, announced Wednesday during an analyst presentation in Frankfurt, is the latest in a series of setbacks for Alfa Romeo’s global expansion. Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne blamed uncertainty surrounding the European debt crisis for the company’s need to rethink some plans.

Fiat dealers have pinned high hopes for Alfa, which would give them a range of larger, sporty vehicles to augment the Fiat 500 small car, the only model they currently are selling.

The Giulia sedan and wagon are also now planned for introduction in 2014, instead of 2013, as previously stated by Fiat.