GWM wants to buy FCA

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

GREAT Wall Mo­tors (GWM) has al­ways had a thing for Fiat and now China’ sev­enth-largest ve­hi­cle builder plans to “put a ring on it”.

In 2008, GWM was em­broiled in a copy­right is­sue with Fiat af­ter shame­lessly cloning the Fiat Panda.

GWM this week an­nounced its plan to buy all, or part of Ital­ian-Amer­i­can au­tomaker Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles (FCA).

GWM last year sold 1,07 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, but any pur­chase of FCA would take the Chi­nese firm to another level.

FCA earned a net profit of $1,9 bil­lion for 2016 com­pared with just $100 mil­lion in 2015 dur­ing re­struc­tur­ing and mas­sive re­calls. The U.S. car in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tion

Au­to­mo­tive News re­ported ear­lier that Great Wall Mo­tor pres­i­dent Wang Fengy­ing had said in an e-mail that her com­pany in­tended to buy FCA’s Jeep brand.

Jeep, Au­to­mo­tive News noted, is “the jewel in FCA’s crown” as the brand’s rep­u­ta­tion dates back from World War 2. Great Wall is known for its sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles, which are pop­u­lar in China.

AFP spec­u­lates while sales of FCA mod­els are eb­bing in the U.S., GWM’s bid could of­fer a life­line to Fiat Chrysler, in par­tic­u­lar for its Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands.

FCA’s shares have soared on re­ports of a po­ten­tial deal.

In a state­ment on Mon­day, Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles said it had not been ap­proached by Great Wall.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Ser­gio Mar­chionne said in April that Jeep and Chrysler’s Ram truck brand are strong enough to stand alone.

The com­pany had sold Fer­rari in 2015 into a sep­a­rate busi­ness.

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