Fiat says can't give clues on investments due to downturn

TURIN, Italy Wed Aug 1, 2012 7:51pm BST

The Fiat logo is displayed during the second media day of the 80th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Fiat logo is displayed during the second media day of the 80th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva March 3, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Fiat FIA.MI said on Wednesday it could not give indications on future investments because of the international economic downturn and a slump in the European car market.

Fiat, which also runs Chrysler, said in a statement after meeting unions in Turin it would provide information on products and plants with its third quarter results in October.

The statement came a day after Fiat reported a second quarter trading profit of 1 billion euros, bolstered by soaring sales at its U.S. unit Chrysler.

Excluding Chrysler, Fiat posted a 246 million euros loss - underlining how tables have turned since Fiat rescued Chrysler after the U.S. company's 2009 bankruptcy.

In Europe, where mass-market automakers are waging a bruising battle with plummeting sales and shrinking margins, Fiat's trading loss narrowed to 138 million euros from a loss of 207 million euros in the first quarter.

Highlighting the crisis in Italy, Fiat's home market, overall car sales there fell 21.4 percent in July, data showed on Wednesday, and Fiat sales suffered a similar decline. Car registrations also dropped in Spain and France.

"The international economic crisis and the difficulties in the European car market do not allow us to give indications on future investments for the time being," Fiat said in its statement.

It said that despite the crisis, investment at its Grugliasco plant in Italy had already started, with the Maserati Quattroporte prototype already in production there for launch at the end of this year. It also confirmed that preparatory work to produce a new Alfa Romeo model -- the 4C - at its factory in Modena was under way.

But the statement made no mention of plans for Mirafiori, Fiat's historic hub near Turin, where Fiat had announced plans to build a Jeep-branded SUV and an Alfa SUV. It also did not refer to the Giulia sedan, the new Alfa to be launched in 2014 and a crucial project for the Fiat-Chrysler partnership.

(Reporting By Gianni Montani, writing by Silvia Aloisi)

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