• Feb 11, 2010
Fiat 500 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ralph Gilles, Dodge CEO and Chrysler Group design head, has just wrapped up an address to the Chicago Economic Club that was peppered with several choice quotes and quips. You can read the Chrysler's PR-filtered version on its Twitter feed, but here are our favorites:
From the true: "Brands and companies don't die. They are victims of homicide."

To the sublime: "Viper important to image of "my brand" [Dodge]"

To the ridiculous: "The further away you are from Detroit the less you know the facts about the auto industry."

To the more ridiculous: "I liken management to X-Men... all have special abilities."

To the funny/creepy: Ad agency interviewed him before creating Super Bowl spot. "I had to smoke a cigarette," afterwards, he joked.

To the important: "Fiat 500 on sale in U.S. at end of the year"
That last bit coincides with earlier reports that the Fiat 500 could reach the States as early as this year as a 2011 model. Although the 500's importation into the U.S. has been fast-tracked, there's still some question about whether it will meet U.S. crash and safety standards. We expect to have an exact on sale date soon, and Gilles also said that the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is due to go on sale within the next three months.



[Source: Chrysler via Twitter]


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  • 92 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Exciting news for anyone who was afraid there were no monstrously hideous cars to buy in the United States yet...

      "Check out my new ride!"

      "Couldn't aford a Mini, huh?"
        • 4 Years Ago
        In my opinion, the Mini has one of the ugliest interiors out there - it is like a cartoon, everything feels cheap - I feel like I am driving a toy, really, it's just insulting.

        the 500 on the other hand, has been getting nothing but high praise for it's interior.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, maybe it's not your cup of tea, but at least the design makes sense - it is harmonious, even if the overall design isn't your preference.

        Actual "ugly" would be illogical disasters like the Honda Crosstour, Nissan Juke, Pontiac Aztek, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd agree that the Mini is overpriced, except that they don't seem to have any trouble selling them. It's like saying a Rolex is overpriced. Yeah, it's just a stainless steel diver's watch, no more sophisticated than a Seiko, but it's an icon and they have no trouble moving them at those price points.

        Maybe this sells in Europe on some kind of retro charm, but here in the states, this design doesn't really evoke anything like the Mini, Beetle or old Z3. It just looks dumb, I'm sorry. That's not a commentary on the segment - I think there's a place for cars like this - but even just on style I'd actually rather own a Yaris.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks for posting.

        I was beginning to think that I was the only one that does not get the least bit excited about this car. I like the Mini, it's a well executed car. The Fiat on the other hand.....I just don't get it.

        To each their own....
        • 4 Years Ago
        i want one because the mini is too big, they dont make a mini mini. this car should weigh in at 2000-2200 lbs and they come with the most advanced engines in the world

        interior is much nicer from what i have seen, there are parts of the mini interior that are just too cutsie

        waiting on pricing and options but i can see putting a deposit on an turbo fiat
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think it looks great for a subcompact, could be a major chick magnet. You gotta give it to Fiat and the kids when it comes to design. Even though they get free pass by simply being Italian, most of the time they seem to know what they're doing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The 500 looks like it was designed in 1950...
        Yep this will save Chrysler

        Quick sell your Chrysler stock
        • 4 Years Ago
        I totally disagree, the 500 is not a cheap imitator to the mini. For starters the Mini is over priced, but that aside, they are both modern interpretations to iconic European cars. Fortunately we can get them here. Give me an Arbath 500 to any John Cooper Works Mini.
      • 4 Years Ago
      im looking forward to this coming over

      i love the 500s

      fiat 500 forum
      • 4 Years Ago
      Promise me an Abarth SS and I'll bring you a deposit today.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is amazing to me that nobody has a problem with this. All we did was hand Fiat a distribution channel, they do not care about Chrysler or dodge. Obama promised to save American jobs and the auto bailout was suppose to do this, instead we gave the Europeans some great American brands. Plus billions to take them! Probably didn't know that part did ya?

      I bet this was some backdoor bribe to win favor with the Europeans after we went into Iraq.

      Chrsler and dodge with be gone in 10 years guaranteed.

      We'll be left with Fiats, lancias, jeeps, and maybe rams.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I do not see this car selling in the US (or Canada for that matter) because the 500 is NOT an icon in NA (in Europe yes, in NA no). Also, they will probably price it near the cost of a Mini, but since the Mini is an icon in NA and the 500 is not, then this car will go nowhere. How many people in the US have even heard about the old 500? On the other hand, most Americans HAD heard of or seen the old Mini before the new one was launched.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I expect to pay around $22K for a 500c Abarth, and add another $2,500 for the Esse Esse kit - So that's around $25k - gladly paid.
        • 4 Years Ago
        inline6,

        You're right on the money - 15-16K for a base model would work, no question, but in Europe I believe this car sells for twice that (although I may be wrong).
        • 4 Years Ago
        May have spoken too soon. I did some research and the base model of this car sells for around $18,000.00 Canadian in the UK. That's not too outrageous a price.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If they price it near the Mini Cooper, they're crazy. Nowhere else in the world is the 500 priced that closely to the Mini Cooper.

        In reality, the Mexican-built Fiat should start around the $15k mark for the 1.4L. That's my guess.

        With the equipment levels offered, more modern engine, and far better interior, $15k will be a very good price.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's an icon for me as well, and I live in NA as well. For me, the Yugo is also an icon since my roots are from the former-Yugoslavia (I was actually born there).

        But do I see myself as the typical or "average" Canadian or North American? - no, I don't at all.

        I hate to sound arrogant or Euro-snobbish, but here it goes anyway because I honestly believe what I am about to write - North Americans are simply too provincial in their thinking to buy into a car like the 500 (or any other tiny, yet expensive, FIAT).
        • 4 Years Ago
        This car is an icon to me and I live in N America.
        I think there are allot of people out there with a greater world awareness than you think.
        not all people in the US have blinders on.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It should do well, and it will be much cheaper than the Mini. First, it will be built in Mexico, much cheaper than England, and two it's not a bespoke platform like the Mini, so the overall costs are more spread out. People here will buy it, much more interesting car than the Fiesta. The Abarth won't really compete with the Cooper S or JCW, but it should find it's own niche offering better performance than a regular Cooper, probably for similar money.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop: 208 hp, 2,679 lbs
        Fiat 500 Abarth: 170 hp (with the new motor for the US) 2,205 lbs
        + with an Esse Esse kit, the HP will increase. As of yet there are no specs on the Esse Esse kit for this new US spec Abarth motor. Expect an increase of around 20 HP.
        190 hp in a 2,200 lb car, should move pretty well......

        Looks like it could be pretty even performance wise.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The MINI isn't a bespoke platform either. It's just a dedicated single-purpose platform.

        Bespoke implies handmade.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think the timing is off, there are many states like California and Florida with "mild" winters. I still believe Chrysler is a doomed brand, first off barely any dealers left open. The Chyrsler "name" is now synonymous with "bad quality" all of them are on the bottom of the Consumer Report lists as proof. The perception of the company that it is on its last leg and gasping for air. I agree that the Mini Cooper needs competition in its niche but the Mini has a proven record already in the U.S. and is backed by BMW. This car is unproven and will have the Chyrsler name attached to it - not good at all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In my area, we lost two of the five dealers. The three that remain are the largest and all 5 Star Rated. Despite magazines opinions and flawed American opinions I still bought Chrysler products, not many problems, not falling apart, what's the quality issue you speak of? Certainly not any worst than most of the major manufactures and I'm not even talking about Toyota or Honda's recent woes.

        How many MINI's does BMW sale? Its been quoted by several in the know that this car will largely appeal to those buyers. If Ford is risking the Fiesta here, how is Fiat and Chrysler risking the 500 here?

        The 500 is bigger than the Smart (I've seen more than few here, but this is SoCal), smaller overall than the MINI and Fiesta. These cars are not designed to be volume leaders for any of the companies involved. They are designed to bring in younger buyers who will then come back for later car purchases and build brand loyalty.

        The MINI is bit of niche market. But BMW has proven they can sell a premium small car in America. All the other players (including Suzuki soon with the Swift) think they can compete with the standard MINI in price.

        Concerning fat Americans, some will buy it and not complain about the size actually. This is much more of a city car, this is not a cross-country grand tourer, though you could drive it cross country (40+MPG), just not the most comfortable thing to do

      • 4 Years Ago
      Any good estimates as to what an Abarth (Vanilla or SS) would run for if it does make it over here? I realize that everyone has different priorities, but I just can't justify spending any more than $17k for a car this small - no matter how fun it is to drive - when a decently equipped Mazda3 5-door can be had for $20k.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If it won't meet US standards entirely (but is given a waiver) I'm afraid that'll be a rather large marketing challenge to overcome. Everyone will be attracted to the small, sporty concept but, in time, the safety bug will arise. That'll kill whatever momentum they can generate.

      Regardless, if the Abarth or EsseEsse comes, I'll have a deposit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why can't they merge the DOT and Euro-NCAP crash standards? They make it such a nightmare to certify a car for the US. Of course the EPA standards are as big a hassle, but I don't see why we can't merge those with the European standards as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only reason I can come up with is that it must have something to do with protecting American jobs.

        If you could make a car anywhere and sell it in either the US, Canada, Mexico, or Europe with zero modifications (LH drive), then it would make more sense to have bigger and fewer factories that could crank out cars. Then you just shift deliveries to the markets currently demanding them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Different goals. Crash test standards here are driven (har har) primarily by the fear of lawsuits, whereas in the EUDM it's based on a variety of other factors. Plus, we have bigger and heavier cars here as well as more miles driven as an average. Europe has a lot more smaller cars including "city" cars... which is ok for them, because that's all a lot of people need over there.

        Until then, car manufacturers will just choose whichever is the tougher standard and develop for that, that way, they cover all other standards. It's not that hard.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @dukeisduke

        I have been dreaming of the 1.6 for two years now!

        I can't honestly tell if it's a running gag or if Captain Slow really likes the Sandero

        All I can say is I wish a Morris Marina met safety and emission standards for the US; I'd have one in a minute, complete with baby grand on the roof!

        • 4 Years Ago
        That is a really good idea. With how multinational most automakers are these days, you would think they would push forward with these ideas. It would have to save costs as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Then at last we could buy a Dacia Sandero:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_gear#Unusual_reviews
        • 4 Years Ago
        It makes too much sense, and therefore it will not be done. Problem is politicians are short-sighted fools. But yes of course there should be a convergence of regulations, after-all there is a convergence of tastes between Europe and NA. I fail to see the reasoning behind making the importer and consumer eat 20% cost present to meet US regulations.

        I'm sure to extent this was done as a anti-competition move by US gov't to satisfy UAW and domestic car companies. Now this is going to be a problem for domestic manufacturers if they wish to sell their cars abroad. We know about EU to US cost, but what about US to EU constraints.

        I think Canada and US are the only countries whose regulations are significantly different from those in rest of the world.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Abarth or bust!
        • 4 Years Ago
        inline...one word RESEARCH.....with the SAME features there is over a 4k spread....one interesting feature is the $1000 difference between the cost of leather upgrade.... PS, I OWNED a Cooper S, I AM buying a Fiesta...I DID A DIRECT COMPARISON between a regular Cooper and an SES 5 dr hatch....feature for feature the as specd fiesta was 19700, the Mini 23300 and was STILL lacking some of the standard Fiesta features....
        • 4 Years Ago
        Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari or bust!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Abarth, diesel, or bust!
      • 4 Years Ago
      That first one sounds uncomfortably close to "Corporate personhood". File it under "utterly creepy", please.
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