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A new road story, with Ford and Fiat as partners

In another sign of consolidation in the crowded global automobile industry, Ford Motor and Fiat said Friday that they would share production and development costs of a small car that the two manufacturers will sell under different brand names.

Under the Fiat brand, the car will sell as the Cinquecento, reviving one of the Italian company's most famous and successful model names; and for Ford the car will replace the Ka. Neither company gave details of when production would start, where it would take place or how many cars they each aimed to sell of the new models.

Fiat sold almost four million Cinquecentos in the 20 years they were produced. The last car of the original model rolled off the production line in 1977, and the car has since become a cult item in Italy. The Cinquecento was briefly revived in the 1990s.

The original Cinquecento was tiny. But a new model would have to be much larger, both to meet safety standards and to meet consumer demands. Fiat has said it plans to bring the model to market in 2007.

"By working together on this project, both companies would envisage reduced development and material costs, while providing highly competitive products to the marketplace," Ford said. The two cars will have highly differentiated appearances, it said.

by Fran on Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 01:36:45 AM EST

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