According to Automotive News Europe, Spain’s Grupo Berge will import and distribute Fiat-brand cars in Mexico from 1 January.

Berge is forming a new company called SKBC with two partners to sell the Fiat brand in Mexico. One partner is SK Group Sigdo Koppers, Berge’s joint-venture car-distribution partner in Chile, Argentina and Peru. The other is Clarion, Mexico’s largest dealer group. Berge and SK will own a combined 60% of SKBC. Clarion will own the rest.

SKBC plans to sell 25,000 Fiats a year in Mexico. The lineup will include the lower-medium Stilo, Doblo car-derived van and the Palio, all built in Brazil [which has a free trade agreement with Mexico]. The Punto small car could be added later, Berge said.

“Mexico is part of our Americas growth plan,” said, Berge Automocion (the distribution arm of Grupo Berge) president Fernando D’ornellas.

The Berge-SK joint venture expects to sell 22,000 vehicles – a combination of Fiat, Kia, Mitsubishi, SsangYong and other brands – in Chile, Argentina and Peru this year. Berge said it plans to double that volume in 2006.

The Fiat switch in Mexico is part of the Fiat-General Motors divorce that started last spring when Fiat and GM agreed to end a five-year-old strategic alliance.

GM had been Fiat’s Mexican distributor since 2003, when it reintroduced the Fiat brand to the country after a 40-year absence.

Berge will set up a bigger dealer network for Fiat. Some of the current 22 Pontiac-Fiat dealers will continue, but they will have to create separate showrooms for each of the brands.

Berge and SK already sell Fiat and Alfa Romeo in Peru and Chile. Grupo Berge is the distributor for Maserati and Ferrari in Spain.