The core car division of Fiat is sticking to its existing financial targets, which include a return to operating break-even next year, Fiat Auto’s chief executive reportedly said on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, members of the new management team at Fiat have said the company’s turnaround would be accelerated, leading to some speculation that fresh targets might be announced.

However, Fiat Auto chief executive officer Herbert Demel reportedly said the arrival of Luca di Montezemolo as Fiat chairman and Sergio Marchionne as group chief executive three weeks ago did not mean that new targets would be announced.

“People can change but our targets don’t. The targets remain the same and we are working toward them. We don’t expect any changes to our targets,” Demel told the news agency on the sidelines of a presentation of the new Lancia Musa.

Demel also reportedly said he did not think a reorganisation of the European businesses of partner General Motors would have any effect on Fiat.

“We don’t expect any impact on our joint ventures,” the Austrian executive told Reuters.

The report noted that GM last week concentrated power at units Opel, Vauxhall and Saab at its regional headquarters under a beefed-up management team and also refused to rule out layoffs or other steps to help restore profits – Fiat and GM have two key, cost-saving joint ventures in developing car-building platforms and buying parts.

Top executives from Fiat and GM are due to meet in the United States on June 28 for a regular steering committee meeting which Demel told Reuters he would attend.

He also reportedly said Lancia invested €60 million in the Musa over 18 months, a record time for Fiat to get a car to market.

Fiat is planning to launch about 20 models in the 2003-2006 period to revive sales, the news agency noted.

Gianni Coda, head of the Fiat Lancia unit, reportedly said it was too early to talk about models to be launched after that.

Asked if Fiat would produce a modern version of its famous Cinquecento small car, a concept version of which was unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March, Coda told Reuters: “We have lots of ideas but it is too early to say what next steps we are going to take after 2005.”

The Musa, a luxury version of the Fiat Idea multi-purpose vehicle, will compete head-to-head with cars like the Mercedes A-class and would cost between €17,000 euros ($US20,560) and €23,000 euros ($27,820), the report said.

Fiat reportedly hopes to sell between 30,000 and 40,000 Musas in 2005, its first full year of sales after being launched in Italy in mid-September and the rest of Europe before the end of the year.

Demel told Reuters the mix of car sales in the period was “much better” than in second quarter of 2003 with fewer car sales to fleet buyers and many less “zero kilometre” cars which are pre-registered to dealers and make less profit per unit.