It has been a little while since we have checked in on Fiat and Chrysler—specifically about the coming of the Fiat brand to American showrooms. Even more specifically, we are foaming at the mouth for the Fiat 500 to come to American shores and the Fiat 500C would be an even bigger hit for the warm climates of Miami, Santa Monica and Arizona (in the winter time). However, there is still wide spread skepticism around the idea that the Fiat brand might actually make it across the pond. Why? Well, some of it, as pointed out by Car and Driver, is because we have heard of the return of Alfa Romeo over and over and it never seems to happen.
Since Fiat and Chrysler are inextricably linked these days, the likelihood that Fiat will pull out is a lot less than other nameplates in the world. A lot of that has to do with the bottom line and how much it would be affected if Fiat chooses to cancel the arrival of Fiat vehicles in the U.S. This is especially true now that Chrysler dealers have applied to be able to sell the Fiat brand and Fiat has said they will pick 165 dealer ships in 119 U.S markets. There is the little snag that the dealerships would have to be constructed and ready for business by February 28th, 2011, but I am sure there are “ways” that this can be accomplished.
U.S.-spec 2011 Fiat 500 Sport
Another sign that point to Fiat 500s getting closer to dealerships here in the States is the announcement from Fiat that they will debut the U.S. specification car at the L.A. Auto Show; that and the agreement to finance Fiats through Ally Financial, the preferred lender for Chrysler vehicles. All in all, it looks like people could start booking orders in early January and we are excited to see what really ends up showing up. Just to recap, the current information on the wire says that there will be Pop, Lounge and Sport models. The Fiat 500 will come with either a 100 horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or a 170 horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The transmissions are still up for speculation, but you can bet we will see a manual version and some form of automatic (Car and Driver hopes for the dual cutch automated gearbox).
Bottom line—with nearly double the dealerships of the MINI brand (95 total in the U.S.), Fiat could have a real barnburner on their hands. Now let’s see if they can keep up with MINI’s lifestyle marketing. Competing with a vehicle is one thing, but will the Fiat 500 come with its own community like the MINI.
[Source: Car and Driver]