• May 1, 2009
Fiat 500 - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Will we see a new line of Fiats in America in just 18 months? According to Chrysler vice chairman and president Tom LaSorda, the answer is "yes." Responding to reports that some analysts predict it will take upwards of three years before the first Fiat is (once again) sold in America, LaSorda said:
"We've done a lot of pre-work in terms of homologations and emissions. Eighteen months is practical. Three years is fundamentally wrong. We can do it faster."
Of course, in light of Thursday's bankruptcy filing at Chrysler, perhaps a better question is whether we'll still see Chrysler vehicles in 18 months. Jim Press, another Chrysler VP, says the ailing automaker still plans to reduce the number of nameplates it currently sells and offer Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers under one roof. It remains to be seen how Fiat fits in to the discussion, but CEO Sergio Marchionne says they are indeed coming.

So, what's up first? Hard to say, but LaSorda did suggest that the retrotastic Fiat 500 MINI-fighter is likely to be built somewhere in the United States, Canada or Mexico for sales in the U.S. market.



[Source: Inside Line]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 57 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I look forward to Fiat taking over Chrysler and offering all sorts of efficient smaller and diesel vehicles in the US like they do in Europe and Latin America.
      • 5 Years Ago
      18 months without fiat products...... That's a long F***ing time.
      • 5 Years Ago
      FIAT cars are, in fact, excellent. I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe, and know, have owned, and rented FIAT and Alfa Romeo cars. The technology and quality is very good, the style is fantastic, and If you thought having more small cars in America will be a boring hell, then you’ve never driven a FIAT.

      Forget what your college roomate told you in 1974, most of the problems arose from US safety and emissions regs, dealer issues in the US, and Russian steel which the company unfortunately obtained in a deal for a factory there. I myself had a 1978 FIAT 131 sedan that was the most enjoyable economy car you could imagine… still on the road 30 years later, too.

      Any portrayal of FIAT as a producer of antiquidated, poor quality little cars is utter nonsense from the uninformed… like USA Today, for one. IMO, they are going to surprise a whole lot of people. They also make some larger cars, the Taurus-sized Croma plus FIAT trucks and the larger Alfas and Lancias- they're not all small cars.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't want Chrysler-branded-Fiats. I want Fiat-branded-Fiats! Bring us Lancia too!
        • 5 Years Ago
        The FIATs and Alfas are great, but the Lancias? They all look quite dated (even if they are technically very good cars).
        I'm looking forward to the new Italian small cars!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, give us pandas! Now!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Lancia was great when they participated in rally racing. It's been a while since that has happened. I've owned Fiats and Lancias. I'd prefer a Fiat. An Alfa would be nice too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I want Chrysler branded Fiats.
        • 5 Years Ago
        100,000,000% agree.

        I WILL buy a Fiat 500 the day they hit US shores. I will NOT buy it if it is a Dodge or Chrysler rebadged product.

        Fiat, get it? I will buy a FIAT 500. Not a Dodge 500, not a Chrysler 500. From a FIAT/Alfa Romeo dealership, not a Chrysler dealer either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey you Fiat bitchas, nothing stops you from re-rebadging your 500.
        • 5 Years Ago
        totally agreed
        • 5 Years Ago
        agreed, the Chrysler look is horrible and would ruin any Fiat Product. just give us the same unmodified cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Fiat and Alfa, yes.

        Lancia, no. At least not until Lancia stops making their cars so damn fugly and starts making them look more like 80s Lancias.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why not buy the Chrysler rebadge. Hopefully it will have the lifetime power train warranty so I don't have to worry about the little Italian motor going kaput. Eagle Talons and such were rebadges and I think that they were pretty cool.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I' ve just looked at your comments here and everything's about 500 (which, in Italy, we call "cinquino" something like "small five")...but there's plenty of other modles in FIAT brands...
      Just have a look at the GPunto TJet in sport configuration or the Bravo Mjet Sport or the Alfa Romeo GT with JTS engines and even the 147 Q2 could be appetible as a choice. It's not the most recent model, but it has a quite sophisticated suspension scheme both the front and the rear, with great handling and drive feeling. I think Croma also could be a good bargain for a family midsize.
      Talking about engines FIAT can deploy its newest models: the 1750 TBI, direct gasoline injection, turbo charged, dual overhead camshaft engine with powers in a range between 180 and 240 cv/CE, and the 1.9 MJet Twinscroll with two sequential turbo compressors and 190 CV/CE, not to mention the new MultiAir system which will be applied to every engine built in the near future (it has been designed to be of easy application to both existing and coming engines).
      For every detail about transimissions and engines refer to Fiat Powertrain home page: http://www.fptpowertrain.com/eng/home.htm
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry Cosimo, but not the Croma. It was built on Opel underpinnings and has not been a success as all the faults from the donor cars were carried over - suspension mostly. Also, it is hardly a looker and doesn't have a great interior either, but as for the rest of the Fiat range...great. However, I don't think there is any point of going to the expense of bringing over nearly obsolete models. Time for a fresh start if Fiat wants to cut out a decent position for itself in the US.

        I agree that the new engines and transmissions are going to be the strength on which Fiat's future is built, and Chrysler's too with luck.

        As long as they get the designs right of course ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, Colin. But I'm trying to figure out which models could be imported now, in order to make the merger commercialy "visible" to the public. What the future will bring, in term of engine and car designed and built for the North American market, it's something unpredictable. Perhaps we shall see a VAG strategy (A4/Passat/Golf/Toledo sharing platform, engines, suspension, gearbox ecc.), perhaps something more sophisticated like US designed engines, with FIAT's aid. I bet we won't have a "Fiatsler" so the VAG option is unlikely to be the outcome and, if I'd be american, this is just the situation I'd prefer to avoid. I think of an engine basement sharing, fuel injection, electronic and other components, but I'm mainly worried about the gearbox: americans are quite used to automatic transmission, while europeans (and italians first) don't like it so much. We Italians, I'll have to be completely honest here, think that you really drive only if you can use manual gears, but this is a legacy of our quite "anarchical" way of driving cars. Obviously FIAT is not so plenty of automatic gearbox so this component will probably be of Chrysler legacy. There is a modern dual clutch auto gearbox coming from Powertrain in VAG fashion and perhaps this could do the job, but not for all power and torque ranges.
        I admire Marchionne's choice, but I think it's a hard one. The hardest FIAT has ever taken.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fiat can do what VW did: import models right now and substitute US built cars when available. This gives them the earliest deliveries with the least risk. They can do any model/option juggling with little consequence at this stage. Once they are manufacturing in the US such changes are far more difficult. Also starting imports early allows them to quickly ramp up service docs, training and spares.

      Those with questioning minds would note that Fiat might want to establish some type of beachhead as soon as possible to build US credibility. Expect Obama to have stimulus monies available for government purchases of any Chrysler/Fiat vehicle with 4 wheels and at profitable price. We could see rebates like we have never seen before: $3000 Chrysler/Fiat Rebate and a $5000 tax credit!". Should Chrysler go tits up (as it will) Fiat could continue with existing "Fiat" dealers and likely could buy the needed plants out of Chapter 7 proceedings.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jamie,

      You sound like you know what you are talking about. Would it be fair to ask the source of you info? Are you an industry insider?

      The first Fiat to the US by this fall sounds about 1 year earlier than the previous earliest estimate I had heard. I hope you're right.

        • 5 Years Ago
        They have to do the crash testing and all that jazz first. Also importing with the euro so strong would not be smart. Look at what happen with saturn. Really fiat needs to build some 500's here and export. Fiat's in the US will take some time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jamie,

        "I get my BA this summer. Yeah!"
        Congrats on your business degree, but if you look anything like the picture in your post,
        you've obviously missed your calling!

        But I do appreciate what sounds like solid info on the situation facing the American car companies these days. I hope they all make it, but it sounds like both Chrysler and GM will look much different from the companies we've grown to love/hate over the years. Thankfully, Ford seems to be holding its own.


      • 5 Years Ago
      I wanna see the Lancia Delta, FIAT Panda 4x4, and the 500!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder with the 500 coming if Ford will bring over it's sister car, the Ka?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I doubt very much these cars can be here in 18 months. They don't even have an assembly line ready to build them. LaSorda is blowing smoke.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed. There is no way the Fiats will be here in 18 months.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, come on now!

        How long does it take to federalize a car? All told, about 3 to 6 months max. FIATs are already built to US standards. They just have to be certified. That's it.

        Furthermore, how long does it take Sergio Marchionne to fax the plans to Jim Press or Tommy LaSorda to ramp up for production at one of Chrysler's many flexible assembly plants? Hey, that can be accomplished this summer!

        Just lining up the suppliers and the logistics is all that remains. This job is totally possible in 18 months!

        It's not like Chrysler is starting from scratch to build FIATs. All the plans are already in place. Here's the plans...now, go build them. Duh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fiat has been designed and planning for several of their cars to move to the USA; so they are well ahead of the curve in emissions, safety, etc. I suspect we will see them sooner then later.

      Branding will be very interesting. This will have no bearing, but the Chryser logo, both the historic and winged version -- and the PentaStar -- have a similiar shape to the Fiat logo. They would be easy to drop in?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I want a Lancia Stratos.
    • Load More Comments