Fiat-based Chrysler models are still a couple of years away.
Harald Wester, Fiat's chief technical officer, this month gave a group of analysts here a detailed look at how the Italian company can help reduce the cost of launching vehicles and cut the time needed to do it.
Chrysler reorganized along brand lines after emerging from Chapter 11 in June. Fiat owns 20 percent of Chrysler.
Under Fiat's standardization approach, Wester said, only 25 percent to 30 percent of vehicle production costs come from components that differentiate models and brands. Those components are mainly the upper body, doors, windows, seats and interior trim, exterior trim, instrument panel and front and rear lamps. Most other costs are common among vehicles that share an architecture.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank IAA Investor & Analyst Conference, Wester outlined how Fiat has reduced r&d and tooling costs while deriving models from the Fiat Stilo compact hatchback, which debuted in 2001.
For example, he said that when Fiat replaced the Stilo with the Bravo in 2007, the company spent just 41 percent of what it spent to develop the Stilo. The Bravo uses the Stilo's C-segment architecture but got a new upper body and interior.
In early 2010, Fiat will launch the Alfa Romeo Milano sedan based on a major upgrade of the C-segment architecture called C-Evo. The revised architecture includes new front and rear suspensions and allows for four-wheel drive. It was also designed to meet U.S. standards.
With C-Evo, Wester said, Fiat can create a new model with a new upper body and interior for half of what it cost to bring out the 2001 Stilo.