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Fiat to split VM Motori with GM after buying Penske's 50% share

by Andrew Ganz

Fiat and General Motors will share ownership of Italian diesel builder VM Motori.

Fiat has purchased a 50 percent share in Italian diesel manufacturer VM Motori from Penske Corporation, a move that will have the automaker splitting the engine builder's ownership with General Motors.

The Fiat acquisition, made through its Fiat Powertrain division, still awaits antitrust scrutiny and financial details have not been disclosed. GM bought a 50 percent share in Cento, Italy-based VM Motori in late 2007.

GM and Fiat released a statement indicating that they will jointly manage VM Motori, which has supplied diesel engines to a wide variety of vehicles - including the long-departed Jeep Liberty CRD that was sold in North America in the mid-2000s.

What this means for Fiat, GM
Fiat will gain access to VM Motori's new V6, which was developed by the Italian firm at GM's request. The engine will probably be used in larger Chrysler-developed models, like the Chrysler 300, Chrysler 200 and Jeep Grand Cherokee, all of which will be sold in Europe, as well as certain Alfa Romeo models.

Previous Chrysler-built, diesel-powered models used Mercedes-Benz engines, a legacy dating back to the Michigan automaker's brief takeover by Daimler.

Vehicles badged as Chryslers in North America are set to be badged as Lancias in Europe in an effort to revive the historic brand. For North American consumers, the move could mean a return to this market for a diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, but other models are unlikely.