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Absent from the American market since 1982, Fiat is now back in big way. Chrysler announced today a list of 130 dealerships across the country that have received letters of intent for a Fiat franchise.
Once these dealers fulfill the requirements of the letter and can provide the facilities and requirements submitted in their proposals made to Auburn Hills; they can begin selling Fiat vehicles, beginning with the pint sized 500. The car, which as been on sale in Europe for a few years, is being officially introduced to the North American market this week at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
And although a few 500s will be arriving in dealerships next month, none will be officially sold until January 2011, and even then they’ll only be trickling out in small numbers. A volume launch of the North American 500, which will be built in Mexico and classed as a 2012 model year vehicle, according to Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel; isn’t planned until a couple of months later in March.
Chrysler says it ultimately plans to have 165 dealers in the Fiat retail network and is already talking to those beyond the initial 130; some of which are currently not Chrysler franchises. It is also tentatively looking at dealer proposals for Alfa Romeo franchises, when that brand is set to return to these shores, sometime in 2012.
Get more Fiat 500 news and info at Fiat500Owners.com
Hit the jump for the complete list of dealers and to find out the nearest one to you. Plus, we’ve included a short video of the all-new Fiat 500 from the car’s LA Auto Show debut:
There is a definite possibility that Ford’s European Ka microcar could make its way to dealerships in North American in the next few years.
A new second-generation Ka was just launched in Europe in 2009, using either a 68hp 1.2-liter gasoline engine or a 74hp 1.3-liter diesel engine. At just 142.5-inches long, the Ka is roughly the size of a SMART fortwo.
While Ford has never been interested in bringing over the Ka before, the Fiat/Chrysler merger may change all that as the automotive partners plan on bringing a Chrysler-branded version of the Fiat 500 microcar to the U.S. – a move that could happen in as little as 18 months.
Not only would Ford want a piece of the microcar segment, but its Ka is actually based on the Fiat 500 chassis as well.
A big issue in bringing the car over would be pricing and while a Fiat 500 might be able to fetch a price roughly equivalent to a SMART, a Chrysler or Ford vehicle would have to be much closer (if not under) the $10,000 mark.
There is also a possibility, suggests an article in the Detroit Free Press, that both Chrysler and Ford could team up on the manufacturing of both vehicles, having them built in the same assembly plant in order to minimize costs. If that were to happen, the car would most likely be built in Mexico, where both Ford and Chrysler already have plants.
The whole idea does seem far-fetched, especially in a country that loves big cars, but times are changing and Chrysler has made it clear that a version of the Fiat 500 is slated for U.S. roads.
Ford already has plans to bring the European Fiesta to North America, where it will compete in the ever-increasing sub-compact segment.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press]
The Fiat Panda is just one of several cars that will be sold in the U.S. under the Chrysler/Fiat alliance. It will most likely be badged as a Jeep.
There has been plenty of speculation as to which Fiat vehicles will make it on to North American roads as a result of the merger with Chrysler, but thanks to bankruptcy filings, the mystery has been solved.
In total, it looks like five or six Fiat and Alfa Romeo models will make their way over, as well as two engines and one impressive transmission.
Robert Manzo, the executive director of Capstone Advisory Group LLC, a company that is working with Chrysler during the Chapter 11 filings, stated clearly that the vehicles are the Fiat 500 and Panda, the Grande Punto and Alfa MiTo as well as the C-Evo based sedan and Milano 940.
The Fiat 500 and and Panda will fit into the micro-car category, although the Panda isn’t exactly micro. As more of a compact crossover, it will likely be branded as an entry-level Jeep.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo, will come over as a sporty sub-compact, and the Fiat Grande Punto will be a sub-compact hatchback.
From left: Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Grande Punto
The only thing that isn’t entirely clear is the talk of the C-EVO platform and the Milano 940. While these two vehicles would be more mid-sized, they may actually only be one vehicle. The C-EVO is a platform, expected to underpin the successor to Alfa’s 147 (likely the 149), whereas the Milano 940 is a concept car based on the platform. We expect to know more when Alfa brings new products to the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.
In terms of engines, the agreement would see two Fiat motors travel across the ocean. The first is a 3.0-liter diesel and the second is a 1.4-liter gasoline powerplant. The deal will also see a new state-of-the-art double-clutch transmission come over for use in many of these new models.
Executives spent two years talking to anyone who would listen about forging a partnership
Before Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 late last week the automaker explored every option, including selling the company to the Chinese and forging partnerships with any other manufacturer that expressed even a remote amount of interest.
In public bankruptcy filings, made at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, Chrysler’s co-president and vice-Chairman Tom LaSorda said that the company entertained offers from Chinese automakers Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Tempo International Group, Hawtai Automobiles, and Chery Automotive Co.
“Chrysler sent letters to parties, primarily in China, whom we thought would be potentially interested in purchasing our assets,” LaSorda wrote. “Over the next two months, several companies… expressed interest in purchasing specific vehicles, powertrains, intellectual property rights, distribution channels and automotive brands.”
In the end, however, none of those companies were interested.
LaSorda also said that over the past two years Chrysler has courted practically every other automaker out there, searching for a partner. The list includes Nissan, General Motors, Volkswagen, Tata, Magna, GAZ, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota.
Many off the arrangements didn’t have a leg to stand on, however, the talks with Nissan were thorough and only ended when Nissan couldn’t secure the credit needed to buy in to Chrysler.
La Sorda finally writes that a partnership with Fiat is the “best outcome,” although that might be stretching the truth, as it seems Fiat is the only automaker in the world with interest in Chrysler.
The Chrysler/Fiat deal, which began back in March of 2008, is now before the bankruptcy court. Fiat didn’t put any money into Chrysler but will provide $8 to $10 billion in small car technology in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the company. Fiat can get 15 percent more if it meets three benchmarks that the U.S. government has imposed, including building a 40 mpg car. That car will be a Chrysler version of the Fiat 500.
[Source: Detroit News]
*** UPDATE *** Moments after Chrysler released an announcement that a partnership with Fiat was a done-deal, the American auto manufacturer released another statement with slightly revised wording stating that it had just a “framework” of a deal in place. *** UPDATE ***
Hours after President Barak Obama gave Chrysler a deadline of 30 days in which to solidify a partnership with Fiat, a deal has indeed been made.
“We are pleased that Chrysler, Fiat and Cerberus have reached agreement on a framework of a global alliance, supported by the U.S. Treasury,” said Chrysler Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli in a press release issued by Chrysler. “Chrysler has consistently said that the alliance with Fiat enhances its business model that expands its global competitiveness. We appreciate the willingness of the Task Force, along with industry and financial experts, to consult closely with us in order to achieve this significant step”
The new partnership will see Fiat provide Chrysler with technology, products and several vehicle platforms for global distribution.
“Fiat strengthens Chrysler’s ability to create and preserve U.S. jobs; gives U.S. consumers more choices for environmentally advanced vehicles; gives its dealers more of the products they need to be successful; helps stabilize the supplier base; and allows Chrysler to pay back government loans sooner,” continued Nardelli.
“I want to personally assure all of our customers, dealers, suppliers and employees that Chrysler will operate ‘business as usual’ over the next 30 days. While we recognize that we still have substantial hurdles to resolve, Chrysler is committed to working closely with Fiat, the Administration, U.S. Treasury and the Task Force to secure the support of necessary stakeholders.”
The final details of the Chrysler and Fiat partnership (whether it be a merger or ownership) must still be worked out over the next 30 days, after which Chrysler is still seeking $6 billion to get the new Chrysler on its feet.