Italian carmaker Fiat faces potential delays to its two main strategies - relaunching its upmarket Alfa Romeo brand and taking full control of U.S. unit Chrysler - putting a question mark over its ability to tap into any European market recovery.
And in a move that could add to investor uncertainty, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne on Friday cancelled his appearances at the Frankfurt car show on the eve of the event, due to "last minute unforeseen business commitments." He also did not turn up to watch Fiat-owned Ferrari challenge its rival Formula 1 teams at the Monza Grand Prix race on Sunday, as scheduled.
Europe's car market has been hammered by years of austerity. But signs of life in even some of the long-suffering southern European economies have raised hopes that demand might finally start to pick up next year.
Fiat's response to the crisis has been to announce a range of new models for Alfa Romeo in a bid to grab a bigger slice of the more robust and higher-margin luxury car market, both in Europe and particularly Asia and the United States.
It is also aiming to take full control of its profitable U.S. unit Chrysler to gain guaranteed and quick access to the cash flow and technology it needs to compete in a global market.
Sources familiar with the matter, however, say plans to start building the main models in the new Alfa Romeo range in Italy next year are facing delays.
And an agreement to buy out Chrysler's minority shareholder has become hostage to the outcome of a battle in a U.S. court, which could push the deal back to 2015.
"The two drivers of this story are Alfa and the Chrysler merger, and we've had very little news flow in recent months," said a fund manager who owns Fiat stock, declining to be named.
"I am expecting the speed of investment to pick up from now on, because if you want to have an adequate pipeline for next year you need to get moving now."
One analyst said the two issues might be connected, with uncertainty over the timing of the Chrysler deal possibly