Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FIAT: Ricerche al Centro

Tra le polemiche di questi giorni, è bene ricordare che Marchionne è l'uomo che ha tirato fuori la FIAT dal baratro.

Come? Mettendo a frutto i risultati di anni di ricerche che giacevano nel cassetto al Centro Ricerche FIAT di Orbassano.

Perché ribadirlo? Perché si tratta di un esempio da manuale di come la ricerca sia cruciale per sopravvivere nell'economia globale.

One of Marchionne's first actions when he took over Fiat was to pay a visit to Orbassano. There, one of the company's senior technicians, Rinaldo Rinolfi, presented him with a memo whose bland title, "Strategic plan for motors for the next ten years", belied its prophetic nature. By 2010, the paper proposed, Fiat would have three breakthrough technologies ready for market: the MultiJet II diesel and the MultiAir petrol engines and, to work with them, a Dual Dry Clutch Transmission, which would deliver the smoothness of automatic transmission with the economy of manual. Rinolfi's strategy, developed alongside fellow physicist Lucio Bernard, who had joined the company in 1978, was based on a radical assumption: it would be better to improve the diesel and petrol engines that already existed than to develop cars powered by either biofuels or electricity.

Marchionne agreed and in 2005 he brought all of Fiat's powertrain research under one roof. The result was FPT Powertrain, which set Fiat on a period of research that would lead to bold, environment-focused innovations. "In years when the automotive industry was craving for more -- more power, more size, more displacement -- we alone foresaw that times were about to change," says Alfredo Altavilla, FPT Powertrain's CEO.

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