By on February 12, 2013

The next generation Fiat 500 will no longer be hecho en Mexico for the North American market. Faced with a modern plant and unused capacity, Fiat will consolidate all of its 500 production to its site in Tychy, Poland, in 2015. So what does this mean for Mexico?

The move may have as much to do with Fiat’s underutilized capacity as it does with Chrysler’s current capacity crunch. Pentastar plants are running at full steam, and the facility in Toluca, Mexico will likely be converted into a plant to build Chrysler products for the North American market. Toluca currently builds the 500 and the Dodge Journey crossover. Interestingly, Marchionne has claimed in the past that unused European capacity could be used to meet North American demand for Chrysler products. If the idea of a Mexican made car scares you, just wait until you get your hands on a Caravan made in the same factory as an Alfa Romeo…

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33 Comments on “Fiat 500 Moving To Poland, Chrysler Heads South...”


  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Finally a chance to buy a Polski FIAT. They’ll sell well in Chicago , at least.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Working in an eastern bloc plant would be a bad acid trip. That being said, Mexican plants are nicer than most think. Just in time and 5S are almost overdone to a fault. My plant is literally beautiful. A great workforce, too.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Stunning!

      Poland part of the “eastern bloc”? It isn’t 1989 any more.

      Perhaps the news hasn’t travelled. Poland is a member state of the EU and a member of NATO.

      Fiat has built the 500 and Ford Ka there for years, and probably better than the Mexican plant, as well. Particularly, paint that remains stuck to the car, not a bad trait all in all.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Not so stunning, more homely.

        I’m sure Poland provides the ‘better off’ nations of the EU with the same sort of globalization based manufacturing that Mexico does for the US. Sharing economic wealth is for the better.

        FSM has been around since the 70’s. Not sure what it’s been renamed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but if they don’t speak their parent company’s language as good as my international domicile’s populous does: tedious, menial, unpleasant work. Obviously you haven’t done my line of work. Bringing North American manufacturing standards to a non-American culture is like pulling teeth. Europe = quality in a craftsman’s sense. Not quality in organized pedigree of parts. Americans won’t push the start button until everything is done with testing and specs are met. Europeans produce retail cars that gradually migrate from ‘kind of’ prototype to production. It’s just that the customer gets all those running changes. This isn’t specific to one OEM. I should have been more specific: If I launched anywhere in Europe, it would be a bad acid trip. I also apologize for coming off as a bigotted idiot.

        Edit: Ford North Amercia’s best paint shop is in Cuatitlan. Look at the orange peel on a Fiesta, then look at the same on any other product.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that plant was built after the Iron Curtain fell

  • avatar
    belfagor

    idiotic last line!
    Derek, are you trying to be funny and end the article with a witty quip a-la-Economist? try again, with more class this time

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    That’s got to be a hit to their bottom line. The US has no free trade agreemet with Poland. The cost of shipping and teh cost of tariffs will take away whatever profit margin they had on this little car.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “The US has no free trade agreemet with Poland. The cost of shipping and teh cost of tariffs will take away whatever profit margin they had on this little car.”

      The tariff is only 2.5%. That’s not high enough to make any difference.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Oh boy, so we’ll get a Polski Fiat 500 and a Serbian built 500L? I can’t wait for the next model, will it be built by AvtoVAZ?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ” If the idea of a Mexican made car scares you, just wait until you get your hands on a Caravan made in the same factory as an Alfa Romeo…”

    Can’t speak for the current crop, maybe an Alfa sourced Caravan is a step down. However my mother had an ’87 and ’96 when I was growing up, so I can’t imagine an Italian built Caravan being any worse than those two. They both ran most of the time, sort of.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Well, I wouldn’t buy a Caravan or Alfa, 500 or Journey, but I do own a Pentastar in my wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, imported from Detroit.

    I think Fiatsler has a smash hit with the 3.6 Pentastar V6. It is a modern, lightweight, potent little hamster, on par with the Toyota 3.5 and the Honda 3.5, and just as technologically advanced.

    The Pentastar is infinitely tunable to adapt to sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks alike, and flexible enough, because of its 24-valve VVT, to adjust to any load requirements within its power/torque curves.

    Because I have had absolutely no problems with our Pentastar in almost 30K miles since we bought it in Nov 2011, I would recommend that Fiatsler make this engine available in more of their vehicle lines.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      The Pentastar V6 isn’t too bad, but it hardly matches the refinement of a Honda or Toyota V6. To say so would mean to me you haven’t tried them all out.

      You should also read this page:

      http://www.pentastars.com/engines/production.php

      With some luck, your engine block doesn’t suffer from porosity problems, which Chrysler plugs with silicon sealant if they’re not too bad! Good luck.

      The page should also be read by tresmonos. The Mexican chief of Chrysler was fired because of outright poor quality on the Pentastar V6.

      BTW, the page mentioned above is part of Allpar.com, a Chrysler fan site though obviously not rah rah.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        @wmba

        IIRC, Highdesertcat has a Highlander limited in his fleet – so he would be in a good position to compare the Toyota V6 with his Pentastar. Hopefully the oil sludge doesn’t get to him on the Highlander.

        Have you any direct experience with Pentastar powered vehicles? I have put a few miles on rented JGCs, and found the Pentastar to be a huge leap from the old Jeep V6, and equal to anything else I’ve encountered.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        What you may not know is that I also own a 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited 4X4 with that 3.5. The Highlander has been so good that I decided to keep it as our third vehicle when we bought the Grand Cherokee in Phx, AZ in Nov 2011.

        The Grand Cherokee was a “spur of the moment” buy. My wife and I were driving in the Highlander towards home in NM on I-10 and saw the GC from the Interstate sitting on a flatbed at the dealership.

        My wife said she really would like to get a closer look at it, and about an hour later, she was the proud new owner of the GC. I drove the Highlander home with her driving the GC. The rest is history.

        Our GC has been just as good and just as reliable as our Highlander has been. I found that surprising. I never was a Chrysler fan since everything Chrysler I had owned had been crap.

        Oil and filter changes on the Pentastar are a breeze and a lot easier than on the Highlander. I know, I do them myself.

        We chose the Highlander over the Pilot in 2008 because the Pilot had some issues, deserved or not, but we weren’t going to take any chances since it was a replacement for my wife’s ’92 Towncar she used to show homes for her real estate business.

        All that said, we’ll trade off the Grand Cherokee right before the warranty expires. She can buy another GC if she wants, but I favor the Sequoia 5.7, if they still make them when we go shopping in Nov 2014.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Hey HDC…if you have 30k on your Pentstar…you’ll be out of warranty in 6000 miles…not in November 2014. You better start shopping.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        sunridge, Chrysler sent me a questionaire on my ownership and dealership experience a few months back, probably because the GC has never been back at a dealer for service and to read the OBDII codes for the record. They also offered to sell me an extended warranty that will take me up to Nov 2014 (time and mileage wise).

        Normally I wouldn’t do this (buy an extended warranty) but I took the offer (last year) because my wife really likes her GC, and we got a 9% dealer discount plus $500 military discount from Chrysler on it, when we bought it. Just the military discount went a long way toward paying for the extended coverage.

        I haven’t got enough money scraped together now to trade the 2012 GC but I will have by Nov 2014, unless something else pops up that requires unanticipated expenditures.

        I figure with the retained value of the 2012 GC (@55% – high mileage), we should get a respectable chunk towards whatever SUV she decides to buy for herself then.

        I’m sold on a Sequoia, but the GC is such a kick to drive for her, with the self-adjusting suspension and all, that when the time comes she may cave and choose to buy another one.

        Maybe not an Overland Summit, though. We have not made use of any of the standard luxo features like blue tooth, nav, auto garage door opener, QuadraTrac II, etc. Just the satellite radio on 50’s on 5. We leave everything on Auto, even the headlights, and they do their thing automatically, without our attention required.

        But I’m not keeping this GC like I did her old Highlander. I’m getting too old to keep three cars around. I wanna downsize to just two vehicles, hers and my truck. And if they’re relatively new and under warranty, that will reduce my stress level as well.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      I Have a 2011 GrandCaravan with the Pentastar. It is a nice engine. I never worry about it, now the tranny on the other hand, fingers crossed.
      We bought the van one month after I bought a Mexican built Fiat 500c. I love that car. no issues and fun as anything to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        My daughter in law had a Town&Country that had issues with both the engine (smoke) and the transmission (slippage). Since she needs a people-hauler to haul kids, etc, she was able to use our 3-row Highlander when her T&C was in the shop. But the step-up into the Highlander was too high for the little ones (no running boards/side rails).

        According to the transmission guy, all the T&C needed was a 50-cent seal replaced inside the transmission but getting to it took complete removal and disassembly. He recommended resealing the whole transmission for a little more money, so the bill, mostly labor, came to just under $900.

        Another option would have been to swap the tranny ($650 plus labor) for a rebuilt one by a VoTec student in Phoenix, AZ, but when you do that you never know what you’re going to get since it was rebuilt by a student and not rebuilt locally by a pro. The parts house honors the 90-day warranty on the rebuilt if it fails but they won’t cross ship, so you have to wait weeks for the new part to arrive.

        Anyway, a couple years ago she traded the T&C for a Sienna AWD, and so far, no problems at all.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      sunridge, powertrain warranty on the engine is 5 years or 100k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      “…..Oil and filter changes on the Pentastar are a breeze and a lot easier than on the Highlander. I know, I do them myself…..” And I must suppose that you carry your own luggage at the Back Bay Station or Logan.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Let’s hear about this Pentastar when you’ve hit around 213K miles, like we have on our ’01 Highlander. That Toyota motor uses no oil and sounds like it did the day we bought it. One of the best cars we’ve ever owned.

      Also have a 2012 Abarth and I have nothing but praise for the build quality… absolutely no issues or complaints.

  • avatar

    Quote “Because I have had absolutely no problems with our Pentastar in almost 30K miles since we bought it in Nov 2011, I would recommend that Fiatsler make this engine available in more of their vehicle lines”.

    Yeah, how about the Fiat 500 Abarth with this motor. That would be a real sting in the tail

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You would have to move the engine amidship and lose the back seat for better weight distribution, plus add full-time 4wd for grip and to handle the torque.

      But it would be a scream! I redid a Vega once with an old Chevy 283 and a new B&M Hydramatic Bangshifter, a couple of 18″ slicks and a limited-slip differential. It was a kick to drive, but unruly when punching it, completely lifting the front wheels off the road deck, thereby going ballistic, final destination unknown.

      It’s still around. The guy I sold it to runs it in the funny-car class at the drag strip near Hastings, NB.

  • avatar

    Very interesting. Let’s see if it happens. In the Fiat-dom some thoughts and proposals get kicked about but never really happen. Maybe this is Marchionne’s way of dangling something in front of the EU comission in order to get something back (with the PSA deal and all)…

    Wonder if the tooling for the 500 will be coming to Brazil. If it does, maybe, just maybe they’ll reduce the price and keep it around in its present form for many, many years. God knows the Brazilian market accepts this.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Chrysler always had quality from its Mexican plants. Consequently the company enjoyed a strong home market reputation in Mexico. I had an 1989 Dodge made I believe at the Toluca plant. I didn’t put a lot of miles on it, but I owned it over 15 years without much more than a relatively minor suspension repair.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @tresmonos
    My mother bought a 2011 Focus and I think its manufactured in Mexico.

    The quality of the paint and/or application is substandard. The secondary areas in the trunk has surface rust developing. Panel fit is okay but could improve. But the quality of the interior in on par with an 80s Euro vehicle. Disgusting.

    It might a good vehicle in Mexico, but I don’t think it is comparable to our Focus’s we get and they come from South Africa (I think).

    I do think your view on NA manufactured vehicles is quite flawed. Skoda is manufactured in an ex-Cold War country and the quality is much better than US manufactured vehicles.

    @Highdeserestcat
    The Pentastar engine will eventually come in different capacities and I have read a release by Fiat that it will be manufactured in Europe. I don’t know if it will be a 2.7 or 3.0 litre, but I do remember it stated it would most probably be of a smaller capacity than the current US manufactured Pentastar.

    The NA market will produce 2.0 liter and larger Fiat/Chrysler engines and the Eurozone will manufacture the smaller engines and some of the Pentastars I stated above.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Big Al from OZ, thanks for the tip. I haven’t followed the possible future expansion of the Pentastar because we’re not going to put more wear on our GC than the warranty covers; which means trading it for something new in Nov 2014, and letting potential future ailments be someone else’s problem and expense.

      I favor a 2015 Sequoia 5.7 to replace the 2012 GC, but it will be my wife’s daily driver so if she wants another GC, that’s what we’ll get.

      @GeneralMalaise, we own a 2008 Highlander Limited 4×4 with the 3.5 and 85K miles on it, without any malady. The only reason I kept it when I bought the 2012 GC for my wife was because this Japan-built Highlander had been a problem-free vehicle.

      I know that the Chrysler dealer wanted me to trade that Highlander in on the GC, because the Highlander was clean, damage-free and enjoyed a sterling reputation for durability. The dealership was very disappointed that I decided to keep it, and purchase the GC outright.

      They offered me low-book for it but it was worth more than that to me. So instead of the dealer losing the sale on the GC, we compromised on 9% off MSRP plus a $500 Military discount, and I purchased a bunch of stuff from their parts department to include running boards, a Class IV Grand Cherokee hitch with insert, and the skid-plate set that was dropped ship from the MOPAR distributor to my address in NM.

      Everyone was happy!

  • avatar
    Junebug

    The Pentastar V6 was added to the Jeep Wrangler in 2012, go to the Wrangler Forum if you want to hear the good, bad, and ugly.


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