Chrysler Fast-Tracking Fiat 500 to North America
Just a few days ago, we were speculating that the U.S. is likely to see a Chrysler-badged Fiat 500 emerge from the new Chrysler-Fiat marriage. Now, hot on the heels of the alliance announcement, rumors are emerging that Chrysler isn’t even bothering with a rebadged version: they just want to bring the 500 over to North America ASAP.
Motor Trend is reporting that Chrysler is considering a “crash program” to get the Fiat 500 into Chrysler showrooms in “well under 18 months.” According to Motor Trend’s unidentified source, Chrysler’s plan is to use the 500 to generate more traffic in showrooms.
The small European car would be brought to the U.S. but not to Canada, said the source. The 500 needs only a few modifications-including a new bumper beam and front fascia-to meet U.S. safety standards, but Canadian standards are tougher to meet.
If the 500 makes the journey over, it would be the smallest vehicle available in Chrysler’s showrooms. The Fiat is quirky and stylish like the Mini Cooper, but is closer in size to a Smart car, albeit with a backseat. If sales of the Mini Cooper in 2008 are any indication of what consumers want in 2009-Mini saw its sales increase almost 30 percent in the U.S. market when the industry average was an 18 percent drop-Chrysler may just have a winner on its hands.
Source: Motor Trend