500: Fiat moves things up

We've grown more accustomed to reporting production setbacks and launch delays, but in its never-ending quest to recreate themselves, Fiat is actually moving things ahead. Following rumors circulating around the European motoring press, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne confirmed yesterday that they'll actually be moving the official launch of the highly-anticipated 500 up by a couple months. The new 500 was originally scheduled for launch in September, but with development progressing along smartly, Fiat is moving the launch date ahead to July, which will conveniently coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original 500.

[Sources: Italiaspeed and Euronews]

The 500 is a reinterpretation of the iconic Fiat by the same name. The original Cinquocente was a tiny car with a two-cylinder half-liter engine mounted in the back that produced just 13 horsepower, yet it has endured as a blast to drive and is one of the most recognizable cars ever produced – in the Old World, at least. Even Michael Schumacher drives one. The new 500 is being based on the Panda platform and will have the engine up front, driving the front wheels. Think of a Mini, only with Italian flair.

In related news, unfortunately that won't be the only thing Fiat is moving earlier. After negotiations with its workers' unions and with the Italian government, Fiat announced the early retirement of as many as two thousand of its workers. It's unfortunate for those workers being let go, but hopefully the severance package arranged with the pension fund will see them well taken care of. It's part of the cost of Fiat's drive for the top, and a by-product of production partnerships its formed with competing carmakers.

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