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Chrysler/Fiat: Will Italian Steel Immigrate to U.S. Dealers?


2008 Fiat 500 Abarth

2008 Fiat 500 Abarth

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With Fiat set to take 35 percent of Chrysler for no money down, gain access to Chrysler's dealer network in the U.S., and Chrysler to gain access to the Italian automaker's competitive small car platforms and machinery, what kind of exotic Italian steel can we expect to wrap our driving gloves around?

First off, the Fiat Group - which itself faced rather dire business circumstances not long ago before placing Italian-Canadian businessman Sergio Marchionne at the helm - consists of Ferrari and Maserati, both of which have a strong U.S. presence, and brands Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Fiat, none of which are currently sold in the U.S. Fiat is the economy division of the group, with Abarth its sportier yet still-affordable counterpart. Lancia fits luxury trappings on Fiat platforms, and Alfa Romeo currently offers stunningly-penned designs that occupy the luxury/performance niche served by the likes of BMW.

Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20081026/BUSINESS01/810260378/1014/rss13

Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20081026/BUSINESS01/810260378/1014/rss13

Enlarge Photo

While the Fiat Group's small, miserly gasoline engines and turbodiesels would not have registered with the American market even a couple of years ago, the rapid rise of consumption-conscious Americans makes Chrysler's adoption of Fiat small-car powertrains seem like a wise direction. Even more compelling, however, are the genuinely desirable, sexy, and smart small car aesthetics and platforms that are the antithesis of Chrysler's current small-car crop.

The scribes over at Carscoop have their own wish list of cars that might land in the U.S. as a result of this merger: they pin hopes on the Fiat 500, the sport-oriented Abarth Fiat 500, the sleek Alfa Romeo 150 that they equate with the BMW 3-series, and finally the Alfa Romeo Brera and the Brera-based Spider droptop.

Alfa Romeo 159 Sedan

Alfa Romeo 159 Sedan

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Whether the Fiat Group chooses to simply use Chrysler dealers to peddle their brands to the American public or engages in some badge-engineering with the Pentastar remains to be seen, as all of the details are still being sorted. But the thought of sexy Alfa Romeos such as the MiTo - or at least its mechanicals and sumptuous interior - coming to the U.S. is exciting news for auto enthusiasts from Maine to Marin County.

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Comments (3)
  1. "Colin, we agree!"

    See, I knew it would happen, Colin and I agree. Sure I'm off in left field when it comes to Chryslers, but even I recognize a good deal when I see one,especially when it's for the home team. When I was in Italy last year, I couldn't help but be impressed with some iron not available here, among them some Alpha Romeos. I agree Colin, will Chrysler get it's hands on this stuff? My guess is yes and yes. The indications from the press release hint that Italian product would be manufactured here,most likely redesigned and rebadged. Look for the first to come from the Newark, Delaware plant and for it to produce an Alpha and Chrysler sports car. I think Chrysler will sell the rebadged products and lower volume Fiat products in their dealerships. You can now shop for your Viper or Ferrari side by side. Now that's real comparison shopping! "Pentastar Pasta" anyone?
     
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  2. "Reece"

    This seems on first glance a win - win situation. I doubt Fiat will sel Fiat's in the US but probably see Alfa's like the Mi-To, 156 and maybe the 147. Alfa may even do a special edition of the ultra sexy 8C- Competizione, one of the sexiest cars ever made. Mostly though it will be about getting Fiat platform and engines into Chrysler vehicles. One interesting outcome though maybe a rear-drive Alfa based on next gen Chrysler 300 platform as they have long sought an economical to produce rear drive sedan and this would give both groups the numbers to warrant a fresh design (ie not couple of gen old Mercedes E class). Chrysler can more cheaply develop small cars. Things I think may finaly be looking up for Chrysler.
     
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  3. "Bill, we do!"

    Ha, I knew we'd hit some common ground eventually ;-) Yeah, I'm quite stoked about this Chrysler/Fiat deal, but hope they can get all the kinks worked out by Feb. 17 to meet Congress' deadline. But if done right, I think this can have great results for both companies. Incidentally, any idea what happened to the once-prolific Ed and his Magnificent 7?
     
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