Think small. That tagline may be associated with vintage Volkswagens, it’s quite appropriate for Fiat’s reincarnated North American operations. New reports suggest the automaker is busy planning a number of small vehicles for North America, including an all-new four-door B-segment vehicle.
Motor Trend recently sat down with Laura Soave, CEO of Fiat’s North American operations, who revealed the project — currently dubbed L-Zero — is under development. Although we’ve heard rumors that Fiat may be crafting four-door and crossover variants of the retro-chic 500, Soave mentioned the car won’t be based on an existing European Fiat model. Instead, Chrysler and Fiat engineers are working to create a new, purpose-built four-door model, which will likely launch in early 2013.
Although Fiat does sell some larger vehicles and vans abroad, Soave says the brand will remain focused on smaller vehicles for its North American portfolio, allowing other Fiat/Chrysler brands — including Alfa Romeo and Dodge, potentially — to market midsize sedans and other vehicles with minimal overlap. Soave suggests the company will not sell anything larger than a C-segment vehicle (i.e. Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf/Jetta) in the New World.
Until the L-Zero reaches fruition, U.S. Fiat dealers will be left with a number of 500 variant to sell. Early production hatchbacks are slated to reach dealers by March, while 500C convertible models are expected to launch in time for summer. A high-performance Abarth 500 will launch in early 2012, while a battery-electric 500 is expected to debut by the end of that same year.
Source: Motor Trend