I remain on the fence regarding the Chrysler-Fiat merger. On the one hand, Chrysler needed saving and Fiat was willing to lend a hand (though no cash). On the other hand, Fiat’s reputation for reliability both here and abroad remains shaky at best. Fiat also shed over a billion dollars in 2009, and says it won’t make it back into the black without the help of another Cash for Clunkers program. Of course, Fiat still managed to outsell any of Europe’s other big car makers, and actually saw its market share increase by almost 9%. See why I am on the fence?
But then there is the Fiat 500. While I may not care for small cars… there is something about the 500 that makes me want to give it a chance. It is cute and fuel efficient, but it also has the mean Abarth edition that looks like it could be a lot of fun. And according to Ralph Giles, design chief of Chrysler, the Fiat 500 could go on sale earlier than expected, coming to US showrooms by the end of this year. What about the Abarth edition, Ralph?
The Fiat 500 could be to Chrysler what the Neon once was; a small car with big appeal. The name is well known, and the car even managed to impress the guys at Top Gear (in both regular and Abarth configurations). What’s more, it has a base price of about $14,000 in Europe; it might sell for even less here in the US, once production in Mexico gets under way.
Speaking of which, production wasn’t supposed to begin until December of 2010. So either Fiat thinks it can bring production up to speed sooner than December, or it plans to import a large batch of 500’s from Europe, and sell them at a loss. Or maybe not. I think it is also a good move to not try to re-badge the 500 as a Chrysler, adding unnecessary costs (and an embattled badge) to what is otherwise a very good car.
One thing for sure; it can’t get here soon enough.
Source: AutoBlogGreen | Image: Fiat