Chrysler to Build 500 in Mexico, for Mexicans?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

I have no idea how Chrysler is going to survive. In fact, I assume the feds saved ChryCo from the grim reaper knowing full well the dying domestic didn’t have a hope in hell of recovering, just to help out their pals at Cerberus, I mean, save the US economy from total collapse. Or something. Anyway, Fiat ended-up paying bupkis for some pretty juicy assets. Jeep much? Chrysler also has some modern production facilities, including a plant in Toluca, Mexico. Today’s story in the Wall Street Journal, “revealing” Fiatsler’s plans to build the Fiat 500 down South is something of a non-story. Our pals over at Inside Line called that one way back in January. But it’s worth repeating: An American Fiat 500 is a non-starter. We reckon a hecho en Mexico 500 will be built by Mexicans for Mexicans. Or, as Edmunds puts it . . .

Fiat already has a major presence in Brazil, but it’s not much of a player in Mexico. And undoubtedly it would like to be. We’d bet that buyers in Mexico are apt to be much more receptive to subcompact Fiat 500s, Pandas and Grande Puntos than, say, U.S. consumers. In addition, meeting crash and emission standards is also likely to be a much simpler proposition in Mexico than the U.S.

Today’s “leak” comes complete with a bone for U.S. UAW workers/taxpayers who might greet the news that Chrysler is using billion of American bailout bucks to help Fiat gain a toehold in Mexico:

Chrysler is also looking at making a small Fiat engine for the 500 at a Chrysler plant in Trenton, Mich., and is considering building a Fiat-derived compact car slightly larger than the 500 in the U.S., a person familiar with the plans said.

In other word, the 500 per se will never make it north of the border. And that “consideration” of a U.S. engine plant will eventually give way to no way jose. Which is just as well, as only a few American diehards would have bought it. Building and selling a small car in the US market made a good story, though.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
2 of 37 comments
  • John Horner John Horner on Aug 18, 2009

    "Americans don’t buy cars that are much smaller than a Yaris 3-door hatchback." An interesting point there. Up until several years ago you couldn't buy the Versa, Yaris or Fit in the US because the accepted wisdom was that "Americans don't buy cars that small." Then Nissan, Toyota and Honda all scrambled to finally bring that class of vehicle to the US and now it is an established segment. The class leading Fit has been in chronic short supply for a few years now.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Aug 18, 2009

    I just realized we all missed a little bit of "TTAC speak" here. According to another thread here, the "?" at the end of the headline is supposed to tell you that any declarative statements contained within are opinion or conjecture. I'm still holding out hope that the 500 will come here. It wasn't all that long ago that Ford said it wouldn't bring the Fiesta to the U.S.. Too small they said. Until they decided to bring the Fiesta here. I'll take an Abarth please.

  • Yuda 1) EVs are garbage and a complete waste of time and money 2) Ford IS a business after all, cars and trucks ain't free, they take a lot of time and money to Actually make, manufacture, and build 3) SD trucks are actually useful and practical
  • Tane94 If there is market demand, build the vehicle. That's what Ford is doing. Kudos
  • Cprescott Looking like that? Egads
  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.