Now that a Chrysler/Fiat alliance appears close to fruition it's time to see what the Italian automaker can bring to America that will sell on showroom floors. Beyond the wildly popular 500, some question marks do exist about the marketability of other vehicles in their portfolio.
The Fiat 500 seems to be a no brainier for introduction into the American market. The MINI car has received plaudits around the world and recently received the World Car Design of the Year Award at ceremonies during the New York Auto Show. Depending on who you listen to, the car can be here as early as sometime in 2010 to as late as two to three years down the road. The 500 in its current European state would need a number of modifications in order to meet tougher US and Canadian emission and safety standards.
The retro designed Fiat 500 will not enter a competition-free market. One of its formidable competitors will be the popular MINI Cooper S. The Fiat will not be able to compete with the MINI S in the power department. It is said that the 500 would come to the US with a 100hp four cylinder engine. That's pretty competitive against the standard MINI which produces 118hp but will be below the Cooper S when compared to the top of the line Abarth 500 (pictured). The MINI S makes 172hp while the Abarth generates 135 horses. Never the less, the 500 will sell well for Chrysler/Fiat. It's some of Fiat's other current models that have an uncertain future on our shores.
The current models in the Fiat stable that could appear in some iteration in US showrooms are the 5 door Fiat Panda, the Fiat Grande Punto compact sedan and the Fiat Bravo hatchback.
The greatest buzz surrounds the Panda. There is talk that the Panda in its full crossover 4X4 trim could end up as a Jeep in 2011. It is said that the Panda, which many think will become the recently promoted Jeep Phoenix will have a 1.3 liter engine, powered by gasoline, will achieve mileage similar to the hybrid Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. In Europe the Panda is currently powered by a 1.3 liter turbodiesel.
Again, with the ink not yet dry on any contracts, the speculation continues. But isn't it great that we're finally talking about product and not poverty when it comes to Chrysler? And don't forget, in addition to Fiat the Italian automaker will be bringing Alfa Romeo-badged vehicle to a Chrysler showroom near you.