By on June 1, 2009

This from Fiat spokesfolks speaking with Automotive News [sub]. “The Fiat 500 — we see that, like the Mini[sic], as a sort of boutique car that we think we can sell in good numbers on the East and West coasts in the same way that Mini has been successful in the U.S.,” he tells AN. Interestingly though, the 500 will also be the only Fiat-badged vehicle in the new generation of Fiatsler products. But, says the Fiat source, “there is a misconception out there that Chrysler is going to build the Fiat Bravo, just stick a different badge on it. They will be Chrysler products. They will be specific to Chrysler. The vehicle architectures will be based on our stuff, and there will be some powertrains. The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.”

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88 Comments on “Officially Official: Fiat 500 Hits Chrysler Dealers in 18 Months...”


  • avatar
    zerofoo

    That’s nice.

    Now bring me the 500 Abarth.

    Thanks,
    -ted

  • avatar
    MMH

    “The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.”

    Well, that’s damn disappointing.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Late 2010-“Sorry Fiat, the last ChryCo dealer closed 10 months ago”.

    Oops.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    AlexD

    Gotta run to the store: need to buy a new beret and scarf.

  • avatar
    jmo

    What about price?

    In Italy “The basic price is €10500 in Italy; with options €15000.” But that includes (I assume) Italy’s 20% VAT… so could we look at a base price of 10k ish?

    Keeping in mind you can’t do a direct comparison between USD and EUR prices.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I might buy one if it was a fiat and they just stuck as chrysler badge on it (and I’d probably buy the fiat badge to replace it once I got it home), but considering how good at screwing up a decent car Chrysler has been, saying “The vehicle architectures will be based on our stuff, and there will be some powertrains” makes me want to shake them and scream “NOOOOOOOOO”.

  • avatar
    gettysburg

    The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.

    Someone beat me to the punch, but isn’t that how Chrysler got into this mess?

  • avatar

    Question: does anyone care?

    John

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    thanks just sell me a Fiat. no rebadging or “adjustments” for the American market please…

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    In only 18 months? Gee, that’s almost faster than the Camaro. I mean, the Camaro was only a re-bodied Holden, the 500 is actually made, in Italy, today. What are they going to do for 18 months?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I want the over. Unless Fiat has the blue prints on the drawing board and complete today, I think they will take at least 27 months to get the 500 Federalized and suitable for North America. In the meantime, how is Fiatsler going to produce cash flow?

  • avatar

    Ingvar:
    In only 18 months? Gee, that’s almost faster than the Camaro. I mean, the Camaro was only a re-bodied Holden, the 500 is actually made, in Italy, today. What are they going to do for 18 months?

    Actually, I’ll be surprised to see it in 18 months, unless the gov’t decides to streamline a lot of regulations and red tape to expedite the process. Fiatsler will have their hands full trying to negotiate through all the crash test, emission, and import standards. Plus they’ll be training Chrysler dealers how to sell a small car. And training Chrysler mechanics how to work on a small car. And setting up a parts inventory. And training Chrysler paper-pushers to handle all the warranty claims on a Fiat.

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    I don’t get the whole Chrysler/Fiat business plan. I can’t imagine it will work. The only car company I can think of with a worse reputation for quality than Chrysler is Fiat.

  • avatar
    f8

    If there’s a Fiat Abart, I’ll buy it. As far as quality – I’m aware that Fiat isn’t the greatest manufacturer out there, but if it’s under warranty then who cares. It’s not like all other automakers are impeccably reliable *coughVAGcough*

  • avatar
    26theone

    Whoop di freakin do. Your goal is to be as successful as the Mini which sold just over 50k units last year. Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    “The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.”

    That sucks, I was hoping for something new, not the same old crap.

    I want an Alfa, designed and MADE in Italy, not a FUBAR Chrysler whatever.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    Since Fiat owns Alfa Romeo, maybe they can bring some of the new Alfa models to the US.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    It looks like a VW bug that was left out in the sun a little too long. Better get that thing in the fridge before it melts into a puddle!

  • avatar
    gdavisda

    Someone please put this miserable beast out of its misery before it sucks any more money of the taxpayers’ billfolds.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Alcibiades: I don’t get the whole Chrysler/Fiat business plan. I can’t imagine it will work. The only car company I can think of with a worse reputation for quality than Chrysler is Fiat.

    I don’t get the plan either. As for the quality comment – based on what? A 1980s Fiat? Fiats have come a long way since then. Not saying they are Honda quality but they are much better than a 1980’s US-spec Fiat.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Call it Plymouth Cricket for some retro buzz.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Shhh, don’t tell all the happy farmers and contractors using their Case and New Holland equipment that they are actually using Fiats!

    Also, Fiat was supposedly already working on North American versions of Alfas and some other passenger vehicles when it was talking about setting up shop in the US, so it is quite possible that much of the design and certification work for some models and/or platforms has been going on for a long time now. Fiat’s Ferrari and Maserati divisions are certainly well versed in US regulatory requirements, so they don’t have the kind of learning curve to climb one might assume.

    It is rather amusing that many self-proclaimed car guys drool over Ferraris and snicker at Fiat.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Just sell it as a Fiat. Don’t build it in the US, and don’t let the UAW touch it. And make sure the Diesel version comes over, too.

    18 months seems like a long time – lots of obstacles between now and then.

    Any word on Fiat quality these days?

  • avatar
    kovachian

    Welcome to Daimler Chrysler v2.0

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    No talking, let’s see some action. Just bring the cars over. The sooner we can erase the Caliber and Sebring from our memories, the sooner Chrysler can move on.

  • avatar
    f8

    It is rather amusing that many self-proclaimed car guys drool over Ferraris and snicker at Fiat.

    It’s also perfectly normal to drool over Camaros and Corvettes and snicker at Cobalts. This is no different.

  • avatar
    Gregg

    Can the Ford Ka be far behind?

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    # Frank Williams :
    June 1st, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    “Actually, I’ll be surprised to see it in 18 months, unless the gov’t decides to streamline a lot of regulations and red tape to expedite the process. Fiatsler will have their hands full trying to negotiate through all the crash test, emission, and import standards.”

    Why do you have your own special rules?
    Why not just adopt the European Crash tests, emission rules etc.?
    They´re not exactly lenient, you know.
    It seems to me like a big waste of money, and a trade barrier.

  • avatar
    mel23

    Not saying they are Honda quality…

    Will it get better gas mileage than the Fit? Will it have as much room? For sure it won’t have better safety ratings than the Fit’s good in all IIHS tests. So that leaves price, and that means little if any profit. And that assumes CR gives it high marks. Anything less spells curtains.

    But Marchionne has a few months to pretend he has something going. Maybe he should hire Wagoner since he has a little experience with Fiat and nobody has more at pretending all is well.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    What will they do for 18 months?

    First they’ll add about 11 cup holders big enough for 72-ounce Triple Gulps, and this will take at least 6 months.

    Then they’ll spend another 6 months tweaking the engine and suspension mounts to make it completely mechanically incompatible with the diesel and Abart variants. At the same time they’ll soften the suspension and detune the engine, because Chrysler’s execs will inform them that we Yanks like our small cars soft, sluggish, and stupid.

    Then they’ll add a 3-speed slushbox, air, cruise, sat-nav, a backup camera and a 16-speaker, 4 screen, 722 watt in-car entertainment system with an Xbox 360, PS3 and WII built in. This should only take a few weeks, since Chrysler used to be good at bloating our their cars with absurd options to pump up the price.

    Then they’ll spend another six months FUBARing the engine to make it corn-juice compatible.

    Then they’ll spend another twelve months rushing it through the crash tests and federalization requirements.

    Oh yeah, and it will take two and a half years.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Can the Ford Ka be far behind?

    Mullaly has already said ‘no’ to the Ka because they think it’s too small for the US. Fiesta is as small as they’ll go – but the latest Gen Fiesta is a very nice car.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Will it be as successful as the Chrysler TC by Maserati? Stay tuned………

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    +1 for Buckshot; switch to European emissions and safety regulations.

  • avatar

    Buckshot :
    Why do you have your own special rules?

    Jus’ ’cause we can!

    Why not just adopt the European Crash tests, emission rules etc.?

    ‘Cause we’re ‘Merica and we don’ care how the rest of the gol-durn world does thangs!

    They´re not exactly lenient, you know.

    But they’re not no good ’cause they ain’t ‘Merica’s standards.

    It seems to me like a big waste of money, and a trade barrier.

    We don’ need no stinkin’ trade. Real ‘Mericans buy ‘Merican!

  • avatar
    Gregg

    Mullaly has already said ‘no’ to the Ka because they think it’s too small for the US. Fiesta is as small as they’ll go – but the latest Gen Fiesta is a very nice car.

    I know, but now that the chassis may come to the US at no cost to Ford, it may be worthwhile to build a niche vehicle on it.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    mel23 :
    June 1st, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Here´s some answers:

    “Will it get better gas mileage than the Fit?”
    About the same.
    “Will it have as much room?”
    No.
    “For sure it won’t have better safety ratings than the Fit’s good in all IIHS tests.”
    Yes it has.
    “So that leaves price, and that means little if any profit.”
    This car does not compete with a low price, but with a design that people love.(like the Mini).

  • avatar
    jet_silver

    Buckshot: Why do you have your own special rules?
    Why not just adopt the European Crash tests, emission rules etc.?

    Why doesn’t Europe adopt the USCS system of measure, and third angle projection on drawings, then? Any engineer worthy of the name can design in any consistent system of measure, and projection angles are just conventions.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    It better be half-way decent, because I’m going to have a hard time getting out of buying one for Stephanie. I finally got her off the MINI, but this is the one for her. At least it better be substantially cheaper than the overpriced MINI.

  • avatar
    lutonmoore

    Really impressive. Everybody’s gonna want one of them…

  • avatar
    George B

    # Alcibiades :
    June 1st, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I don’t get the whole Chrysler/Fiat business plan. I can’t imagine it will work. The only car company I can think of with a worse reputation for quality than Chrysler is Fiat.

    Chrysler building Fiats sounds like an intentionally bad business venture guaranteed to fail. Reminds me of Springtime for Hitler in The Producers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springtime_for_Hitler
    Is someone planning to short New Chrysler stock?

  • avatar
    akear

    This looks like the Astra disaster part 2.

    If they sell 20,000 of these a year I will be surprised. This car has nothing that Americans want.

    BOMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar

    You can keep the Fiats… bring on the Alfa Romeos please!

    –chuck

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    This was mentioned above but bears (bares?) repeating: A slim-margin car entering a tiny market segment that shows no indication it is expanding is going to save Chrysler?

    Good grief.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    I thought that the whole point of the Fiat tie up was that since Chrysler builds nothing but shit and is unable to make competitive cars, Fiat will supply the cars for them. If not, then was is the point aside from becoming the first step in Sergio Marchionne’s grand plan for world domination?

  • avatar
    akear

    I think we all know deep down this merger is simply not going to work. You can delude yourself into believing it may work, but then again you can delude yourself into believing in the tooth fairy.

  • avatar
    paulie

    Frank Williams…
    Seems just a teentsy weeny little mean spirited the way you replied to buckshot.
    Its not just America that puts these stupid rules or barriers up.
    I know personally the europeans and others set their own stupid standards as well.
    If you think not, just try to sell a consumer product in the EU.
    Its a damned nightmare!
    Each country has its own rules and meaning for something as simple as “flavor” and if you don’t package it JUST as they want, you can’t sell it in their country.

    So really…its not just us ‘mericans.

    I see someone asked how much would the Fiat cost…but nobody really gave an idea.
    Why would you by this retro thing over say a volkswagen bug or similar car with as little room?
    That is, unless the price is Hyundai entry low.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    The car itself is a good one, and in a segment Chrysler certainly needs help with. Is 18 months too late? Yeah, probably.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Hmmmm, scratch the above:

    http://www.topgear.com/uk/fiat/500-abarth

    Sounds like unless it’s really cheap, it will be a flash in the pan.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    dolo54

    Don’t worry about it. Chrysler engineers know their 4-cylinders suck. And that their transmissions (minus 2) suck.

    When they say that, I think they really mean that they’re still going to use the new Pentastar V6’s and, of course, the Hemi.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    “A slim-margin car entering a tiny market segment that shows no indication it is expanding is going to save Chrysler?”

    The Fiat 500 is not a slim margin car.
    The bare bones 500 might not be that expensive, but like the mini it has a myriad of options.

    “This car has nothing that Americans want.”
    Is that so?
    Maybe the americans are changing?

    “I see someone asked how much would the Fiat cost…but nobody really gave an idea.”

    It will cheaper than a Mini, but probably more expensive than the other mini size cars.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    As if the United States is pleading for more choices in the four-seater Smart car size.

    Pick a warm, dry port away from the salt air to store them while they age.

    The Chinese are planning on being all over this market segment with the idea they will take it at any cost. Tata too has an eye on it. Both are convinced many streets in the U.S. are 5-foot wide alleys like back home.

  • avatar
    Corvair

    Ugly, Ugly, Ugly! This car is a poster child for mercy euthanasia.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Yes, slim margin.

    Chrysler (and GM) needs a gross operating margin of at least $2,500 per vehicle to have a viable business plan. The Fiat 500 will see $1500 to $1,750 if they can manage to keep from deep discounting it.

    No, it’s a diversion they need to walk away from.

    Get a good subcompact (including a wagon—call it a “Crossover” if that floats your boat) then follow up with a good compact (including a wagon—call it a “Crossover” if that floats your boat.

    Stay the hell away from the Mini market.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Screw the 500. I want the damn’d Abarth. I don’t care if they have to call it an SRT-whatever.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Who pimped out the Trebant?

    All that’s missing is a Type (GD)R sticker.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Frank Williams:

    The 500 (and the Ford Ka) are made in Poland, not Italy.

  • avatar
    davejay

    Call it Plymouth Cricket for some retro buzz.

    You know, I almost laughed at this…and then suddenly, I didn’t. I’d totally buy a car with the name “Cricket” if it was small and nimble and fun like the 500.

    …and a trade barrier.

    Well, yeah. Econ 101. You answered your own question.

  • avatar
    texmln

    Most Americans have never seen a FIAT 500 in person, they have no idea how small they are. Sure, some people will like them and buy them but you’ve got to be realistic. Some people bought the Pontiac Aztec too – nearly 30,000 per year at the peak. The 500 isn’t going to save Chrysler! In fact, it won’t even arrive before Chrysler’s second bankruptcy and liquidation.

    Who’s going to buy Chrysler vehicles? UAW members? I don’t know any greens/lefties willing to give up their Prius for a Chrysler and I don’t know any conservatives who will buy a car from a government/union controlled company. Not a lot of potential customers for Chrysler. Is the government going to sell the cars to themselves just like it’s having the Fed buy the Treasury’s debt?

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    +3 = Buckshots right about US DOT and EPA stuff. We do it wrong on purpose. Long history.

    Think radial tires and aero headlights and gas tax, and antitrust law killing electric street cars in 1930s. Think emissions weighting, where tailpipe CO2 is not a pollutant here (maybe now it is I think I read EPA came around with new administration).

    Sure other places have stupid rules. That’s not a reason for US to be keep being stupid on purpose.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Why does a car need to be cheap/low-margin just because it is small? This is by definition a niche market car. It will not be particularly cheap, and we will likely not get the really cheap small-engined versions sold in Europe, just like we do not get the MINI One. It will be VERY stylish, and I think they will sell a boat-load of them on the coasts, just like the spokes dude is saying. MINI may “only” sell 50K cars a year here, but they make a HANDSOME profit on each and every one.

    Will it “save Chrysler”? Of course not, but it will be profitable. And by all accounts in the European media it is a damned good car. I’ll take a cute Fiat of an ugly-ass Versa or some bland Toyota product any day of the week.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’ll take a MINI now, thank you (I’m actually debating between a used Miata and a used MINI right now, but anywho…). Waiting for 18 months before bringing what, at best, will be a niche vehicle? Brilliant…Chrysler needs desirable product now…not a year and a half from now…sheesh…

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    18 months, not a chance in hell

    new car development, with new chassis and engine takes four years.
    new sheet metal takes three years. Nobody has beaten these times and anybody that says they have is full of brown stuff. These new record development times are quoted time from when the company board approves the project until job 1. There is a ton of work that is done long before the board ever sees the project.

    18 months ain’t going to happen.

    wrt to federalizing a european car, european standards are similar, but different. US developed the concept of standards, but until recently most of the countries in Europe had their own “version”. It took a long time to get close to a universal standard in Europe, but there are still some minor differences. Take for example a minor thing like license plates. Most European countries use a much larger plate. Most American consumers do NOT like the look of an American plate in the European plate opening. Or Britain’s repeater lights. Americans hate seeing those on the cars. I personally hate the American cars that have followed Britain’s concept of a bright tail light (brake light intensity) when the fog lamps are on. Little tiny details like Chrysler’s LX cruise control stalk. Mercedes demanded it be put there, but it was the #1 LX complaint received by Chrysler. American’s HATED the location. This review goes on for hundreds of design details. Tire pressure monitors in some countries operate on different frequencies. Each country controls their own frequencies. So what do you do, you have to design different tire pressure monitors for different countries.

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    The Obama Administration today unveiled their revised version of a well-recognized corporate slogan for the “New GM,” designed to remind consumers of the PTFOA impact on the U.S. Auto Industry: “Like a Rock…tied to the ankle of an exhausted swimmer.”

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    krhodes1 :
    I think they will sell a boat-load of them on the coasts, just like the spokes dude is saying. MINI may “only” sell 50K cars a year here, but they make a HANDSOME profit on each and every one.

    Will it “save Chrysler”? Of course not, but it will be profitable.

    Mini does not make a “handsome” profit. They used some very creative accounting and did not capitalize assembly plant costs in the reported “handsome” profit. They did do some great engineering and sharing design concepts with other vehicles. Also, Chrysler helped design the engine :)

  • avatar
    BDB

    threeer–

    Go for the Miata. From what I heard, Mini reliability is dubious at best and the the parts are expensive. For a Miata? Good reliability, cheap parts.

  • avatar
    akear

    Shipped as is this car will finish at the bottom in US crash test. It is not even allowed in Canada for this reason.
    In many ways it is more substandard than the Saturn ION.

    CRAP!!!

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    May I point out that the Fiat source reasonably described the 500 as “a sort of boutique car.” Meaning the company understands this is not going to be a high-volume seller; it will be lucky to come even close to the Mini number.

    The main function of the 500 is to generate good PR and stir up some showroom traffic. And the main problem is that it sounds like the other Fiat-based cars are probably not going to show up for 2-3 years, which is a long time for the stale current Chrysler lineup to be sitting around. During that gap, will the 500 really help lure people into a Dodge Caliber or a Chrysler Sebring or a Jeep Liberty? Yeah….

  • avatar
    WetWilly

    “The car itself is a good one, and in a segment Chrysler certainly needs help with.”

    There’s a sub-Yaris car segment in the US?

  • avatar

    The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.

    Meaning flat “bucket” seats for large American asses, no dynamics, no excitement, front-heavy engines and basically the same crap that brought Chrysler down to begin with?

  • avatar
    7

    @cardevelopper: The former MINI had Chrysler engines (and toyotas in the diesel version) made in Brazil. The current one has a petrol engine co-developped by BMW and Peugeot (you’ll find it in the Peugeot 207 or in the Citroen C4). Its diesel engine is made by Peugeot

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @Cardeveloper:

    Your comments about lighting standards appear to be based in ignorance and assumption. There is one lighting equipment standard, and one technical standard for each kind of lighting device, for all of Europe. This same single European “ECE” standard is used, with inconsequentially small modifications if any — for virtually all the rest of the world except the U.S. and Canada. The same is true for glass, and seat belts, and air bags, bumpers, brakes, tires, and just about every other regulated aspect of vehicle safety performance. Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Central America, South America and South Africa and Scandinavia and Greenland and Mexico and Israel and most of the rest of the Middle East all require or permit ECE-spec vehicles. It’s only the U.S. (and perforce Canada) maintaining separate standards.

    There’s nothing such as the “Britain’s repeater lights” you complain about. The side turn signal repeater originated in Italy and is now required throughout the world except in America. And please elucidate: which Americans do you imagine “hate seeing those on the cars”? I think you’re making it up, but let’s check: Raise your hand who has a hate-on for repeaters! C’mon, lemme see hands! We all hate it when we can see a car’s turn signal from the next lane over, right? All of us who paid the big bucks for a Mercedes, an Audi, a Bimmer, we almost didn’t buy our cars ’cause of those confounded side turn signal repeaters, right? Dealer had to chop a grand off the price ’cause of the repeaters, right? Hands up, c’mon! (*cricket noises*)

    You also say I personally hate the American cars that have followed Britain’s concept of a bright tail light (brake light intensity) when the fog lamps are on, which not only refers to exactly one American car — the last Olds Aurora — but is also an uninformed and lousy guess at how a rear fog lamp works. It is switched separately from the front fogs, and is in fact a valuable piece of safety equipment when used correctly. It’s annoying and dangerous when improperly used, but that’s not what you said.

    You also say US developed the concept of standards, which is flatly wrong; the effort at pan-European standardisation in safety components began in earnest in 1955 and the first European safety standards took effect in 1958. The U.S. lagged by a decade.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to express an uninformed opinion without being called on it. Please educate yourself. Start here, here, and here, and then read this older editorial here on TTAC. Thank you.

  • avatar
    escapenguin

    I understand the emissions and crash-worthiness issues, but if they turn this into another Caliber, it won’t sell. For instance, look at what Nissan did to the Cube. Those bulging bumpers are hideous. Chrysler needs to be more agile and hire some new blood that’s in tune with what’s hip. I know the Neon SRT-4 and Viper tanked, but they at least had a cult following.

    Ford gets it. The new Fiesta is relatively unmolested.

    I remember when the Neon came out. It could have been a Civic-killer, but they cheaped out on everything. Even though it handled and the motors were strong, that’s not good enough: people want refinement, but leave the soul. Kind of sad.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    I would have thought if they sell anything like Mini volumes (??) then that would be a miracle.

    Of course, the Mini is a LOW VOLUME NICHE car.

    Hardly the stuff of Fiatsco turn-around no?

  • avatar
    redrum

    Count me as another vote in the “I have no idea how this is going to work” department.

    I certainly don’t see Fiat/Chrysler selling these on the cheap. There’s no way they’ll be able to compete on price with Hyundai/Kia and the inevitable wave of Chinese cars that are sure to make it here in the next decade, and besides I don’t think they’d want to. Too “low brow”.

    So it’s looking more like a niche product, which is hardly going to revive Chrysler. If they want it to be a volume seller they’ll almost certainly need to tweak it for the American market. In 18 months? Don’t see it.

    On top of that, if it’s badged as a Chrysler, there goes all the brand equity and mystique of driving an Italian car.

    If Fiat/Chrysler is going to work, it’s going to be 4-5 years down the line when some truly unique product has been co-developed. Can they wait that long?

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    akear :
    June 2nd, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Shipped as is this car will finish at the bottom in US crash test. It is not even allowed in Canada for this reason.
    In many ways it is more substandard than the Saturn ION.

    CRAP!!!

    http://www.euroncap.com/tests/fiat_500_2007/298.aspx
    http://www.euroncap.com/tests/bmw_mini_2007/288.aspx

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    akear :
    June 2nd, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Shipped as is this car will finish at the bottom in US crash test. It is not even allowed in Canada for this reason.
    In many ways it is more substandard than the Saturn ION.

    CRAP!!!
    euroncap.com/tests/bmw_mini_2007/288.aspx
    euroncap.com/tests/fiat_500_2007/298.aspx

  • avatar
    shaker

    It’s “smarter” than the smart car, but too late, no doubt. The 500 (if it arrives as promised) may grab potential smart customers that were on the fence because the smart is just a bit too small, and lacks a back seat.
    I wish them luck, actually, because maybe some nice Alfas can ride on the coattails of a moderately successful Fiat.

  • avatar
    akear

    It has been stated several times the 500
    has to meet US safety standards.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    The main function of the 500 is to generate good PR and stir up some showroom traffic.

    If that’s the case, I suggest Chrysler has lost focus of what the main function of a car in the showroom is: pull in people for a sale at MSRP.

    The 500 as bait? The Fiat 500 is not a Corvette nor will it ever be.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Shipped as is this car will finish at the bottom in US crash test.

    The current model is not coming. The next model, which is already under development, is what will be coming.

    new car development, with new chassis and engine takes four years.

    The car is already under development. As far as I can tell, it has been under development for about two years. So there isn’t much reason to believe that a new model won’t be out in 2011.

    Given all the chatter, Fiat has been planning a return of some sort to the US market for some time. They were in negotiations with Cerberus for the last year to do some sort of deal involving sales in the US.

    Here’s a distinct possibility — the next 500, which has been under development for some time, was designed from the get-go to be federalized, as part of the Cerberus deal. Ditto with these other cars on the agenda. Fiat has been planning a return to the US market, and they were planning with the idea of a relaunch, in some way, shape or form. So the cars should be about as on schedule as one could expect, because they had already been planning on bringing them for a long time.

    It wasn’t the government who began the Fiat negotiations, it was Cerberus. A Fiat-Chrysler JV plan is nothing new. The difference is that now, Fiat gets to run the joint. The 500 was supposed to come, anyway. Cerberus’ business plan was to outsource a lot of the car operations to others while Chrysler focused on trucks and minivans, and now you’re seeing a variation of this plan being executed by somebody else.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    As for the quality comment – based on what? A 1980s Fiat? Fiats have come a long way since then. Not saying they are Honda quality but they are much better than a 1980’s US-spec Fiat.

    Great! You try one and let me know how that goes for you, OK? I think that I (and most Americans) will wait a few years.

    The problem is than their bad reliability has become legendary. Kids who have never heard it will start repeating the “Fix It Again Tony” joke reinforcing the stereotype.

    Add that to the startup factors – limited parts supplies while the pipeline gets ramped up; untrained mechanics who have never seen anything like this car…. it’s a quality disaster waiting to happen unless the rollout is handled properly.

    The car should be introduced into its natural markets first – Frisco, NYC, Boston, et al. The mechanics write TSB’s from lessons learned on the controlled and limited numbers sold. Later the car is expanded into other markets.

    Instead the car will be rolled out nationally all at once because the dealers need something-anything to sell. Since there are so many dealers, supply will be one or two to a dealer at first.

    The “Smart Car” early adopters will overpay just to be different. This will create the next “Smart Car” optical illusion. Dealers will clamor for more, since the first ones sold so well. Then production will ramp up, and that second shipment of cars will sit, forever, on the show room floors (I’d say rusting away, but you’d get mad), since the 12 people in America that wanted one bought them the first day.

    The cars won’t make money for the dealers since they’re low profit models. High profit models don’t exist as this doesn’t have the cache of a Mini.

    It’ll be over in 36 months.

  • avatar
    shaker

    “It’ll be over in 36 months.”

    Or, the Feds will put a $2 tax on gas, or North Korea will nuke the Alaska Pipeline, or terrorists will blow up a major Saudi refinery, or, Chavez will sell all of his oil to China, or…

    Then, they’ll be selling like hotcakes :-)

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Yeah – I agree – switch to Euro regs…

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Lokkii: Great! You try one and let me know how that goes for you, OK?  I think that I (and most Americans) will wait a few years.

    I drove Fiats and Opels and Euro-Fords and other Euro-brands extensively in the early 90s in Italy where I was stationed.for several years.

    I’ll make a big assumption that those cars have only gotten better. Even if they didn’t get better I would have gladly own those cars now as they were back then. They were light weight, frugal, and easy to fix when they needed it. Very easy to toss around the cities. Easy to get into and out of. Had some clever features that I would have welcomed in any car whatever it’s size. Several had tiny engines but could still run over 100 mph for hours and still return reasonable MPGs.

    FWIW the ones that I drove did not need any fixing besides oil changes. They were just the same as driving a domestic vehicle from a maintenace point of view.

    The older 80s vintage Fiats were different. They rusted badly. They had interiors and switchgear that crumbled after ten years. Things broke. Not much was difficult or expensive to fix though but they did need more repairs compared to the domestic vehicles we knew here in the state OPERATED IN THE STATES.

    FWIW even those dog-tired Fiats still had great engines. Even when needing a half-dozen repairs they generally got us where we were going reliably and could be fixed with a minimum of tools. I miss that simplicity.

    We were driving the 70s and 80s Italian cars as second and third and fourth hand cars. We saw where they failed. Rust. Cracks around suspension mounts on a few where they had been POUNDED down terrible Neapolitan streets made of cobblestones and borken concrete for years. You know what? The American cars that other sailors had shipped to Naples crumbled even faster under these conditions. Shocks blew quickly and often. Balljoints failed. Wheels went out of round. Transmissions burned up. Windshields cracked. Brakes burned up and rotors warped. Creature comforts failed. A few years in Naples was like a decade of hard use back home in TN.

    So – with those considerations – the Fiats were pretty tough little critters. I expect the current batch is similar. Would the dealer prices here be cheap enough to afford to fix what needed attention when the car needed it? My local Honda dealer already marks his parts up over 100%. Oh how I’d do more shopping with the dealers if their prices were more affordable.

    I have no problem with buying a Fiat IF Chrysler is not too involved with changing them for American “tastes”. Not too much worry if it appears that the cars will be supported by repair parts and even the aftermarket (see the Daewoo debacle).

    What I don’t want are Fiats “adjusted” for us here in the states. Softer suspensions, crummy automatics, downgraded lighting, downgraded interiors, downgraded engines, etc.

    I see FAR too many ignorant American consumers going on about stuff they don’t even understand.

    I see it every time I research a consumer product for purchase. People going on and on about a device they don’t even understand and giving it a low grade. These same people are going to do the same thing with vehicle they purchase or might dislike on sight.

    Oh it’s small so it must be crap. Oh it’s a Fiat so it must be crap. Oh it’s small so it must be slow. Oh it’s small so it must be without any positive merit at all.

    I recently bought a GPS unit. Exact same thing happened. This device is not one of the big 3-4 brands and so everybody was holding the one I bought up to measure against the big guys. It got poor reviews.

    However it is an excellent device after using it several for several weeks. It is slightly more technical than the toy GPS units sold by other brands. The folks who want a minimum of features and don’t mind subcriptions for services prefer the other brands and are critical of the features they do not fully understand.

    Thanks I’ll take the consumer products aimed at people with a brain and with the ability to read an owner’s manual. Same with a car – I’ll gladly drive a cool, little stylish car that needs to recieve maintenance every 5K miles with specific fluid requirements and quality parts. If dealer prices for parts is high I’ll go around them and get them off the web. I do that with both of my current import cars and I save alot of money that way. Brings OEM parts prices in line with local aftermarket prices. I also do 100% of my own maintenance and repairs so I’m saving money there too. Always have. Even in Italy.

    This is one of toughest things about being an American – we miss out on too many cool things b/c the markets are designed to sell maximum product and in American there is apparently a surplus of dimwitted consumers steering the markets. At least we got the Mini and the only way we got that is because the small car attracts people with money – smarter people who recognize how much fun it is and the value of the looks and features not normally found on small cars in North America.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    And leave the lighting alone. I’ll take the fender repeaters for the turn signals. I’ll take the bad weather tailights (and know how to use them). I’ll happily buy a car with amber rear turn signals so the world following me doesn’t have to wonder if I’m pumping my brakes or what I’m doing if my brake light burns out thus rendering my turn signal in-op on that side too.

    We definitely need to adopt the Euro-spec lighting codes.

  • avatar
    grimm

    I think that a lot of people are underestimating the number of people in this country that are anxiously awaiting an alternative to the current small car automotive offerings… I (for one) have considered everything from Asia (Yaris, Fit, Aveo, Accent, Rio… ) They’re all about the same. Ugly to look at, (I have always found Asian automotive styling unattractive…)They look to me like pissed-off insects. I understand that a lot of people like this look, but it’s not really for me… All of these little cars are kind of fun to drive, but noisy and cheep feeling…. The biggest problem I have with them is harder to quantify…. I just feel that they have no character, no soul… Just a mechanical conveyance that I don’t really connect with, and don’t really FEEL anything for… I know some of you will think I’m crazy to think a car can have soul, but some do. If you can’t believe that it’s because you haven’t yet found a car that has it. One of the first cars I ever drove was a 1972 Fiat 124 spider…. That car had soul! I absolutely LOVED that car! Back in the day when all my friends were driving Mustangs, Pintos, Novas, VW beetles, a Honda cvcc, and a Plymouth station wagon, I was kind of the odd one… Somehow I always managed to feel superior rather than left out. After all, I had experienced all of those cars and none of them compared. I was the last one of all of my buddies to buy a car (this is back in high school in 1982)and I was able to take advantage of a superior basis for comparison by the time I finally got to buy my car. I know that was a critical juncture in my then forming future as a bona fide “car guy”. I have since owned an impressive array (over forty) different vehicles in my quest to have the perfect combination of vehicles (as no one vehicle will do it all) in my stable… I have yet to find a car that I loved like I loved that Fiat… Maybe It it’s just that it was my first car. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I had to take my right shoe off to drive it (the gas pedal sometimes stuck to the floor) Talk about feeling connected to your car…. It was like that car was a part of me…. Man! was that car fun to drive! After school hop in, exactly three seconds to drop the top, and forty min. down Del Dios hwy to the beach…. Enough room for three friends too! How many cars can even do that these days?!
    My point is. I am sure I’m not the only person who has fond memories of having owned a fiat and would be very willing to give the 500 a try… It looks to me like it might have some soul! I have been wanting one since I first saw the concept and I’m happy to here the prospect that I might be able to get my hands on one…. I will wait for that second shipment to sit on the showroom floors forever, and get a good deal on top of it all. Then I will drive that little car up and down the mountain I live on with the stupidest grin on my face anybody ever saw!
    Sorry about the long post. I tried to make it Worth the read!
    CIAO!

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Grimm – I agree. I think some of the reason Euro-compacts “feel” so much better is because in Europe those small cars are sold to adults and not to 20-somethings or even teen like here. In Asia perhaps the cars are not expected to drive any reason distance and thus are allowed to be noisy???

    Dunno.

    Looking forward to the markets opening up to allow more real competition for the consumer. I hope.

    Aiming for two 35+ mpg daily drivers next time. Something larger for weekend trips on standby.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Fiat wants to sell 50K units in the USA? How many do they sell now? Might it double production? Perhaps Fiat doesn’t have to sell 500K units to turn a profit? Leaner company?

    As fro the size of the 500 – isn’t the current version on the same chassis as the Mini? Means it ought to be a similar size?

    I think I heard the designer of the Mini was also the designer of the 500? Sort of like the same designer of the PT Cruiser was the same fellow that did Chevy’s HHR?

    Anybody confirm this?

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