Fiat to supply commercial vans for Opel

Fiat and Opel announced today that the Italian brand will supply upwards of 250,000 commercial vans for the GM subsidiary.

Although Fiat unsuccessfully tried to buy Opel last year from General Motors, the two brands have launched a new partnership that will see the Italian automaker supplying commercial vans to replace Opel's Combo.

Fiat will supply at least 250,000 Doblo vans - rebadged as Opel Combos - beginning in 2011. The vans, which will be built at a Fiat-Koc Holding joint venture facility in Turkey, will be sold in most markets outside of North America as Opels.

Opel will receive both commercial vans and passenger-oriented models of the Doblo, a high-roof van that can be ordered with two wheelbases and a wide variety of gasoline and diesel engines. Opel engineers have already been dispatched to Turin, where they are involved in reshaping the Doblo for Opel buyers.

The announcement will significantly increase capacity over the 100,000 vans Fiat currently builds in Turkey. Fiat says it will deliver at least 6,000 Opel-badged vans in December of 2011 before entering full scale production in 2012; neither automaker has divulged annual production estimates after 2011.

The move is hardly the first time a General Motors subsidiary has collaborated with Fiat; GM - primarily through Opel and its former Saab division - was most recently active in developing the Alfa Romeo 159's platform. At the time, GM intended to use the front-wheel-drive architecture for its own product, but subsequent financial woes put the project on hold.