Alfredo Altavilla provides Fiat S.p.A. with the weapons needed to battle the slump in western European new-car sales and to seal a deal with new alliance partner Chrysler.
Altavilla is CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies, the Fiat group subsidiary that provides the automaker with its popular lineup of the small, fuel-efficient engines.
Having those engines, as well as a strong lineup of small cars, has helped Fiat Group Automobiles capitalize on European scrapping incentives that encourage people to trade-in an older cars for smaller, greener models.
Through six months, unit sales from the auto divisions four brands slid just 1.1 percent to 672,312 units compared with an 11.0 percent decline for the European market.
Because of the FPT-sourced engines, the fleet CO2 emissions at Fiat Group Automobiles' four-brands were a Europe-best 138.4 grams per kilometer in 2008, according to estimates from market researcher JATO Dynamics.
The Fiat brand scored even better last year: 133.7g/km.
FPTs ability to reduce pollution while boosting power in its engines also helped convince President Barack Obamas auto task force that Fiat was the right partner to assist Chrysler after emerging from U.S. bankruptcy protection.
As Fiat groups head of business development, a job he has held since 2004, Altavilla played a crucial role in sealing the deal between Fiat and Chrysler.
"I feel truly honored to have the chance to help re-establish one of Americas automobile icons," he told Automotive News Europe.
Altavilla is a board member in the new Chrysler Group LLC that emerged from bankruptcy protection on June 9.
Growing outside the Fiat family
Altavilla, 45, took over FPT in November 2006. Last year, the company built 2.9 million engines and 2.4 million transmissions at its 16 plants around the world. FPT, which employs 20,000 people, also has 11 r&d centers.
One of Altavillas top tasks when he started at FPT was to get more business from non-Fiat Group companies.
In June 2007, FPT signed a strategic agreement to supply its 3.0-liter F1-C turbodiesel to Daimler AG for the Mitsubishi Canter truck.
"The deal with Daimler is one of the most significant achievements in my career," Altavilla told ANE.
On June 22, FPT signed an agreement to supply Perkins Engines Co. Ltd. with its 3.4-liter NEF turbodiesel beginning in 2011.
Altavilla, who has a degree in business administration from Università Cattolica in Milan, joined Fiat in 1990 as part of its international operations team. In 1995 he moved to Beijing to head Fiat Auto's operations in China. In 1998, he added India to his responsibilities.
Starting in 2002, he led the Fiat side in the alliance with General Motors. Two years later he was given responsibilities of all Fiat Auto alliances and business development.
After a 30-month stint as CEO of Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi (Tofas), the Turkish joint venture between Fiat Auto and Koc Holding A.S., Altavilla was named CEO of FPT.