Fiat buys 50% of VM Motori

Swades friend Pär Brandt asks in automotorsport.se if the the acquisition of 50% of VM Motori by Fiat could help Saab.

In the past VM Motori was owned by Penske. On 2007 Penske sold half of its shares to GM. On Monday February 14 Fiat Powertrain announced that they had bought the remaining shares from Penske.

The new owner structure of VM Motori is 50% Fiat 50% GM.

GM stooped the development of the V6 Diesel at the end of 2008 because of their money problems, and after Cadillac left the European market and Saab was put for sale, GM had no use for that engine.

Could the new ownership structure of VM Motori help Saab to gain access to a much needed big diesel for the European market?

On the one hand, Fiat needs such a big diesel engine for cars like the new Thema/300c, thus Fiat should develop a production version of that engine. Saab developed the 9-5 and the 9-4x with this engine in mind, thus the cost of the integration of this engine should be minimal.

On the other hand, Mr. Marchionne and Mr. Muller don’t seem to be best friends, so it could be difficult to convince Fiat to sell some engines to Saab at a reasonable price.

My personal thought is: If Fiat buys the GM shares, then Saab won’t get access to that engine. If GM keeps its shares, it could be possible for Saab to regain access to that engine thanks to GM.

And one last note; many people think that Saab gets its Diesel engines from Fiat, but this is not the case. The original 1.9L Diesel engine single Turbo found in the 9-3 was co-developed between Fiat and GM, since then GM-Powertrain Italy, owned 100% by GM, is in charge to develop the Diesel engines.

74 thoughts on “Fiat buys 50% of VM Motori”

  1. Business is business. Marchionne is a shrewd business man, and I don’t think he would have a problem selling Saab engines. Besides, Saab and Fiat-Chrysler aren’t exactly Saab’s competition. Perhaps Alfa comes close, but not really. At any rate, a 9-4x with a large diesel V6 would be a dream come true for me, personally. But I don’t think it’ll happen. At least not here in the US.

  2. Saab has always had good connections with Italy, as has Sweden. Hopefully this will continue. Remember 50% GM+50% Chrysler=100% UAW & US Government.

    • Also remember the Fiat Croma / Saab 9000 / Lancia Thema / Alfa 164 (only chassis) cooperation.
      And the coop regarding Saab Lancia 600.

  3. Diesel technology is available elsewhere, so I’d assume that GM/Fiat would want the business as much as anyone else. The question becomes the cost and the service that Saab would get from any supplier. If, as you state, the relationship is strained, then perhaps the service would suffer and the relationship wouldn’t work. Let’s see.

  4. Probably a good idea.

    Would be funny if SAAB can show the world Marchionne is wrong; in today’s world it is possible to be a low-volume profitable car company because there is a huge market for engines and what not.

    Sigh. I wish SAAB was making engines still.

    Any news if BAIC will make any?

  5. All I know, is that a large diesel would be much welcome.

    I’m trading in my 9-3 SC 1,8t for either a 9-3 SC 1,9TTiD, or a BMW 335d…
    For me a powerfull diesel with automatic is no. 1.

  6. From what I collected, also from this site, the situation is complex:
    There are two V6 engines at VM, one with about 2.9 l diaplacement, and a later 3.0 l (though the difference is actually less than 0.1 litre). The former was developped for GM but not accepted, also for technical reasons, the latter seems to be a continuation thereof developped on their own (?) that will be used in Chrysler cars (that’s official, iirc).

    So, maybe this second engine will please Saab?

    • There is just one V6, the VM Motori A 630 DOHC. GM Powertrain had responsebility of developing the engine control with closed loop combustion while VM developed the actual engine.

      VM Motori operate as an independant engine developer/manufacturer.

      • According to Wikipedia, the engine developed for GM is termed RA 629 DOHC, displacement 2925 cc, while the RA630DOHC has 2987 cc.

  7. offtopic, has anyone heard about the 93 replacement launched on the first roadtests? probably was seen in southern Europe…

  8. I’d say leave it alone.
    SAAB should concentrate on more alignment with BMW for the Phoenix architecture.

    • There is no 6 cylinder Diesel in BMW’s portfolio that would fit in Saabs, I believe. They are inline 6 engines and hence to long for transversal mounting.

  9. Swade
    I was under the impression that FIAT had bought GM’s shares in FIAT GM Powertrain, however the agreement implied access by GM to the diesel engines … maybe I am wrong….

  10. Yes – Saabs needs a Diesel Engine for the 9-4x in Europe, but – Oh my godnes…PLEASE NOT A FIAT ENGINE…The possibility to get an BMW Diesel Engine would be much better. I remember the Saab-GM years in Germany when people told me to drive an Opel looking to my 9-3 at that time…ANd the same story were told every time at the press in Germany testing a Saab car: “it ist a Opel in a Saab dress”

    • FIAT’s diesel engines are the best around, sorry

      For example FIAT developed common rail, then sold to Bosch, that gave the way to all current multijet technologies…

    • This is not a Fiat engine but a VM Motori engine.

      BMW have no larger diesels that would suit Saab, so Saab need to look elsewhere for that.

    • By the way, Ferrari and Alfa are also Fiat 😉 And they have F1 engine experience! So, no doubt, they can make really great engines and invent great technologies. But, anyway, that’s not a Fiat engine.

  11. Unless Saab can seriously re work that engine, i would say leave it alone. It’s been around in one form or another for 6 years without finding any takers. Not a good sign.

    Besides, Saab is all about rightsizing, and i believe the TTiD is just the right size for a powerful diesel 🙂

    • I susoect that thete are technical limitations for high presdure common rail Diesels that limit each cylinder to 500-550 cc. Almost all passenger car i4 engines now have between 2 and 2.2 l. This will limit the output. If Saab wants a still stronger Diesel than 140 kW, they will have to add cylinders.

  12. It would be so nice to see a 2,9 V6 in 9-4X on the european market. This is an opportunity that shoulden´t be missed if there is no other obstacle. Would increase sales alot in Europe.

    The engine is out there!

  13. Please don’t put italian rubbish in a saab. We should get the 3.0 l diesel from BMW. That is the way we should go

    • @peppie, WooDZ, I’m totally in agreement.

      With the great news concerning the partnership with BMW, I thought this was all settled………..what on earth could Mr. Marchionne possibly offer that would be a better alternative than BMW?

      • @Peppie, get informed before you get offensive.

        @Neil, no body is getting nothing from nobody.

        That BMW engine is a straight six, which ( and I don’t care what you think) doesn’t fin in a 9-5 or 9-4x engine bay.

        • Hey Red,

          Don’t attack us…………I was just hoping for some clarification, better yet, information as to why Fiat should be considered.

          • I don’t attack nobody.
            But if you want clarification, ask for that.

            And now the clarification:

            Fiat is not being considered for nothing, at least at Saab, and as long as it is known. This was only a though of one of the editors of automotorsport from Sweden. And one of the arguments is, that Saab has developed the 9-5 and the 9-4x with just that engine in mind, which means the cost of adapting that engine to any of those cars would be minimal.

            Clarification II:
            Saab has a contract with BMW for an engine. If Saab thinks they could use another engine from BMW or any other technology, they will firstly need to make a new contract, and BMW needs to be willing to sell that piece of technology.

        • Please, stop it with the hostilty will you? Change your tone. I’m not going to go back and forth with you and stop taking this discussion so personally. I just don’t believe whatever Fiat is doing has any connection (wishful or otherwise) to Saab’s future.

          Just my opinion…….

          Goodwill,

          N

          • Saab have long done very succesfull joint engine ventures among other things with the italians-particluarly Fiat’s JTD and the Croma/9000 engines-again they were reworked heavily-SAABised but there it is-they were good engines-Saab should investigate All avenues available to it to provide the best option at the best price point. its a common business practise.

            Some italian stuff is actually quite good IMHO.

    • x Peppie where do you think the current TID engine comes from? It is Italian rubbish too … as you call it …
      Check your facts before talking rubbish (not Italian this time) !

  14. “On the other hand, Mr. Marchionne and Mr. Muller don’t seem to be best friends, so it could be difficult to convince Fiat to sell some engines to Saab at a reasonable price.”

    Was there some bad blood or something between the two ?

    • No bad blood,
      it is only Mr Marchionne saying that only big companies will survive, and that an independent Saab has no chance to survive, and otoh Mr. Muller jumping on Mr. Marchionne when he says that everybody nowadays want to share technologies to bring the costs down.

  15. One more V6 diesel on the market can’t be bad for Saab. All of those companies will be competing for Saab’s business.

    That being said, I suspect that there’s a big difference between the number of people who want Saab to offer a V6 diesel, and the number who will buy one with their own money. Even buying one with their employers’ money is doubtful now that many companies are enforcing environmental guidelines (such as 120g/km CO2 maximum).

  16. thus Fiat should develop a production version of that engine.

    Fiat already announced these engines 😉 They are already developed for the new Lancia Thema. Both engines will be 3.0 V6 and the power will be 190 or 224 hp. And the engine is matched to a 5-speed automatic.

    CO2 = 184 g/km

  17. SAAB needs a V6 diesel engine for the NG 9-5 in order to be competitive in the European company car market. While VM Motori is not BMW – and altough I personally would prefer the formidable PSA engine (Jaguar!!) to anything else – I must say that nothing sounds bad about the VM engine at all.

    However .- and quite understandably – in the aftermath of V6-debacle that virtually ruined the market impact of the SAAB 9-5 in most of Europe, everyone seems to be a little touchy to the subject of V6 diesel engines.

    • Seems other Euro brands are actually making smaller diesel engines. Jaguar being a prime example. Not so sure the 9-5 actually needs a bigger diesel these days.

      • I’m sorry to contradict you, but virtually all competitors of the NG 9-5 have at least one upmarket diesel powertrain option – Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Peugeot/Citroen, Renault – they all have a V6 in their line-up.
        Don’t lset me be misunderstood: Myself I’d be perfectly happy to drive the 2.0 T or even one of the 4-cyl diesels, but for many people, V6 rules.

        • They all offer them, but I doubt that sales are substantial. I know that it’s a running gag in the French auto press that the only people who’ve ever sat in French V6 diesels are government officials and their chauffeurs.

          That leaves the Germans and Jaguar, and we all know that Germans will design big engines whether they need to or not.

          • If we take Audis cross over sales in europe for instance, most of them are fitted with a diesel V6 engine. Basically, without one, you’re dead in europe.

            I don’t have any numbers for sales in other car types, but I don’t think the sales are unsignificant.

      • Zippy,
        although Mercedes is selling the S-Class(Short and long version) with a 4 cyl Diesel engine, in Europe there is still a market for executive cars with hi-po diesel engines.

        Maybe it is too late for the 9-4x, but Saab should continue searching for such an engine for the current 9-5, and the one based on the Phoenix platform.

  18. Jan-Åke Jonsson about a diesel in 9-4x

    Saab sources have conceded to Autocar that sales will be hampered by the lack of a diesel and company boss Jan Ake Jonsson has said a diesel 9-4X is unlikely to ever be launched.

    “If you then look at the life cycle of the vehicle, typically five or six years, before we actually have a diesel engine, we have to find one, we have to test it, we have to install it, validate it, and you are two years into the life cycle,” he said.

    “And then you have a very short payoff period. So I think it is unlikely.”

    • I think Jan-Åke Jonsson’s comment still holds true. Perhaps if and when a new Phoenix-based 9-4X is developed we’ll get the engine range the car deserves.

    • Cool !!!

      It really is the way to go, it inhibits some risks, but those can be minimized.

      It is very interesting to see all that Swedish know-how concentrated in people willing to help Saab. 🙂

      • Red J, Did not JÅJ said that the diesel that should bee in the 9-4X wasn´t good enough therefor they deside not to use it? Do you remember that!

        • Not exactly,
          JÅJ or VM, said that GM first had a V6 Diesel engine, and after cancelling it the alternatives proposed by GM in form of a straight 4 Diesel engine weren’t good(refined) enough for the 9-4x.

          Some people say that the TTiD 2L from the 9-5 is still underpowered for the heavier 9-4x, I think that because the 9-4x is based on the Theta premium platform which is derived from the Theta platform, GM may have offered the engine from the Opel Antara, an engine from VM Motori that offers 181 hp and 400Nm, but is as refined as a tractor.

  19. Check out the last picture on the following site:
    93sedan.com
    Looks like a good picture of the 9-3 facelift?

    • Some very nice details on the SRX – much nicer than I was expecting. Electric pedals, stitched leather dashboard, remote start etc. I can see now why it’s such a big seller. If the Saab is anything like this, it should do very well indeed.

  20. FIAT need the big(ger) engine for their commercial Vans, still. But the EU seem to have decided that there must be cuts in CO-2 emissions, by those popular Vans.
    Tight(er) regulations have already been set for the personal vehicles.

    So, what interest would Saab have in a V6 diesel, when they’re not making and selling commercial Vans, and when they want to meet EU emission regulations?
    Besides: in the US, diesel is for trucks, tractors and trains. So, there’s no market for V6 diesel cars too.

    Concluding: there’s no need to worry when the bigger diesel engines are hard to get. They just won’t sell. In my view, focus should be on 4 cylinder engines, max. 2 litres, running on (bio)diesel a/o E85, doing some 20 kilometres per litre. That’s green and sexy and will sell thousands. At least in Europe. I guess.

    • I agree. Saab is not lacking a V6 diesel, Saab is one step ahead of the competition with the 4-cylinder engines across the range. And the TTiDs really are great engines.
      The 9-4x would have needed a big diesel but there will definetely (yes, definetely) be no diesel in the current model. And the successor on the Phoenix platform may be lighter and will do well with a 4-cylinder.

      • Not so sure. As I mentioned above, it might well be that technology has hit limits in regards to cylinder volume and power output per cylinder. If people want more power still, more cylinders might be inevitable.

        Another problem is engine smoothness. Several statements on the T(T)iD imply that its a bit rough. A V6 might help here. I’d love to do a test drive with a Jag XF V6 (the Ford engine), but there is no 9-5 TiD for comparison at Saab Bauer in Munich, as it seems. I had a chance to be chauffeured in a Volvo S60 with the i5 engine, and was not too impressed.

        • Not to forget that diesels are more difficult to downsize due to emission regulations. The fuel saving benefits are smaller too.

    • You don’t need a V6 diesel with 250 hp to sell commercial vans, but to sell cross overs like the 9-4X and high output but still fuel efficient passenger cars like 9-3 and 9-5. Without a diesel V6 in the 9-4X you’re almost as good as dead saleswise in europe, and without a more powerful diesel in 9-3 and 9-5 you’re limiting yourself to compete with the cheaper models made by Audi, BMW and similar.

      Statements that V6 diesels wont sell just isn’t based on reality!

  21. I personally think a V6 diesel would be a step up, but history demands it to be an engine that has prooven itself already.
    My opinion on the engines in general. Saab needs a reliable partner for this and a good contract in terms of running changes and improvements. GM has prooven NOT to be that reliable partner ( not only to Saab… ). So any company that GM is shareholder in, should be out of the question.

  22. in the meantime, FIAT has just announced the new Lancia Thema (presented in Geneva) on the Chrysler 300 platform with a 3.6 V6 petrol based on the Pentastar engine by Chrysler and a 3.0 V6 diesel made by VM Motori

    • Have you seen the Lancia Thema, it’s just a rebadged Chrysler, like most newly introduced Lancias… Sergio Marchionne is doing a good job killing Lancia.

      • I agree with you… totally, very sad story … poor Lancia

        Apparently the contract signed with the US Government about FIAT taking over Chrysler involves a certain value of Chrysler export … this seems to be the reason why they currently push on these re-badge exercises ….

    • Duh! That information was already available before this article was written. The press release from Lancia was all over the place…

  23. Chrysler announced some details about its new Jeep Grand Cherokee with the VM Motori engine. It is a 3.0l engine with 239 hp and 550 NM. It uses a new injection system developed by Fiat and has a standard consumption of 8.3l / 100km.
    What a pity, that Saab cannot use that engine as well for the 9-4x and the 9-5. Sales would soar in Europe.

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