Saab Automobile's vice president - powertrain, Kjell Bergström, is to head up technical development in a new GM-Fiat powertrain joint venture company.

Bergström takes up his new position in Turin, Italy, in March where, as vice president - product engineering, he will be responsible for all new engine and transmission projects for Saab, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Opel/Vauxhall.

The new joint venture embraces all current GM and Fiat powertrain operations in Europe and Latin America, involving almost 27,000 employees at five development centres and 19 production plants in 11 countries. These units have an annual capacity of seven million engines and 6.6 million transmissions.

As head of powertrain at Saab, Bergström, 55, was responsible for the development of the ground-breaking Saab Variable Compression (SVC) engine and the Saab Combustion Control (SCC) system.

Within GM, Saab will continue to be a 'centre of expertise' for turbocharging and forced induction technology.