Ask the Best and Brightest: Does Anyone Seriously Believe Fiat Could Save Chrysler?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ask the best and brightest does anyone seriously believe fiat could save chrysler

Puh-lease. The idea that American motorists yearn for small, stylish, Italian cars is nuts. OK, maybe YOU do. But YOU are not the average American motorist. And this is not 1951. Or 1961. The U.S. market is saturated with strong brands selling first-class automobiles that cater to Joe Public’s every vehicular need, from stylish, miserly city runabouts to gas-guzzling, SUV cum blingmobiles. It’s worth noting that the market for new cars really, really sucks. What are the odds that consumers swimming backwards underwater will want to take a flyer on a completely untested brand selling a brand spanking new product? Did I say untested? See, now that’s funny. Fiat in the US? OK, sure, branding these [smoke a] joint ventures as Chryslers or Dodges will sort that little legacy issue right out. See that? Did it again! C’mon. You’re the Best and Brightest. Surely you know that this Fiat thing is a non-starter, from the non-start to the non-finish. Finnish! Didn’t Porsche build Boxster in Finland? I reckon a Finnish brand would have a better chance in the Land of the Free than Fiat. You?

Join the conversation
2 of 85 comments
  • Durishin Durishin on Feb 19, 2009

    "Does Anyone Seriously Believe Fiat Could Save Chrysler?" YES! From having to go out and find someone to buy those big metal-stamping machines and other auto-assembly stuff.

  • MikeFromBrooklyn MikeFromBrooklyn on Feb 26, 2009

    FIAT has one thing to offer. Efficient, reliable,low emissions (which seems to be a big selling point, smooth running turbo diesels. There are many modern turbodiesels that have better performance, mileage, and emissions than a Toyota Prius. Having driven a FIAT Grande Punto down the Italian peninsula at 180 kph (112 mph), I can honestly say they are not the FIATs from an earlier era. The handling as well as the fit & finish of the car were better than many of the offerings of US and Japanese/Korean brands that have been selling here for years. As far as rust problems are concerned, FIAT's main supplier of steel in the 70s & 80s was a Russian Mill which sold them a lower quality product. Not all FIATs were rust buckets because you still see many of the older 500s on the road over there. In fact, there is a company here in Brooklyn that restores the orginal 500s for $9000 bumper to bumper. As far as there being a market for FIATs, one only has to look at the Honda Fit to see that sporty sub compacts can sell in the US. The new Fit is supposed to be a great handling car, but every time I look at one, I see a tiny minivan with the severely raked windshield. I haven't met anyone who likes the style of the new design. The Mini is in another class by itself because after you buy a base model and add some extras, you're looking at $35,000. Fiat can create a niche by offering attractive, sporty, and reasonably priced cars to the US auto public who are looking for a daily ride and only carrying themselves or one to four people. As far as the American public focusing on FIAT problems of the past, remember Fords in the 70s & 80s. They built low quality cars until the Taurus in 1986. The employed an NYU Statistician, W.E. Deming to redesign the assembly line and thereby boost the quality of the Ford product. It can definitely be said that the Taurus saved Ford Motors. In case you don't know who W.E. Deming is, he also helped to set up Toyota's assembly line in the 60's and we see where Toyota is today. As long as FIAT buids its cars in North American plants and pays attention to quality, it has a shot. As far as recognition, just wait for an action movie to come out and show what the car is capable of(Italian Job 2?). Product placement works. Americans just have to wrap themselves around the fact that real driving is more than pointing the steering wheel stright and stomping on the gas. Low horsepower cars can be more fun to drive than their 300 hp bretheren. After all, where can most of us drive more than 70 mph without getting pulled over.

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )