Fiat Auto is disappearing, replaced by four new companies 100% owned by another new company called Fiat Group Automobiles: Fiat Automobiles, Alfa Romeo Automobiles, Lancia Automobiles and Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles.

The current heads of the four brands will be designated as chief executive officers of the respective companies. Operations and the personnel will remain at Fiat Group Automobiles.

"These changes are consistent with the new corporate culture at the Fiat Group, the company said in a statement.

"In particular, they reflect two strategic decisions as to how to approach the business. On the one hand, the group will exist as a unified whole, and on the other hand, each company will be characterised by the specific nature of the respective operating sectors and individual brands."

Over the next few months, all group activities will highlight this aspect by pairing the "Fiat Group" mark with the sector or brand trademark.

Fiat said the creation of Fiat Group Automobiles represents the next, natural step since the group logo was changed at the end of 2005.

Inclusion of the word 'group' in the name reflects its prominent role as a constituent part of the Fiat group, considering the contribution that Fiat Auto makes to group results and the realisation of major synergies with other group sectors, it added.

The new name also identifies a key area of activity that has recently undergone profound transformation, featuring a newly streamlined structure that is more solid and compact than before, Fiat said.

"The new configuration will not alter relationships with employees, dealers, and suppliers in any way. On the contrary, improved brand name recognition will promote better relations with the sales network, customers, and partners," the statement added.