FIAT Could Help Chrysler With Small Cars

If the proposed alliance between Chrysler and FIAT goes through, the company could produce a total of six new models—ranging in size from small to smaller. The terms of the deal would give the European carmaker a 35 percent stake in Chrysler. In exchange, FIAT’s small car experience could give Chrysler the opportunity to reduce its dependence on larger vehicles.

Chrysler suffered a sales decline steeper than any other automaker in January—down 55 percent from January 2008. The decline spanned most of the lineup, but car sales were hit hardest.

Two of six future vehicles would be from the smallest ‘A’ segment, two from the subcompact ‘B’ segment, and two from the compact ‘C’ segment. The ‘A’ cars are the FIAT 500 retro 3-door liftback, as well as the 5-door liftback version of the FIAT Panda. The car based on the Panda would probably be badged as a Chrysler or Dodge.

In the subcompact category, one of the vehicles could be the Alfa Romeo MiTo—Alfa Romeo is owned by FIAT. The other vehicle is not yet known, but will most likely be placed under the Dodge brand.

A brand new vehicle built on Fiat’s ‘C’ platform could be the replacement for the Dodge Caliber. The Caliber is Chrysler’s only compact car and is currently being redesigned for the next model year. The second C-segment car to be introduced would be the Alfa Romeo 147. It would probably retain its name for the US market.

Even if the deal is finalized by April 30, as planned, it will take at least two years before Fiat cars can be remade into Chrysler models. In the meantime, Chrysler is in survival mode. The company received $4 billion in government loans and hopes to get an additional $3 billion by April. The funds would be used to complete the FIAT deal and to stay in business long enough to make good on its plans for smaller fuel-efficient cars.

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  • sean t

    Hope the marriage will last longer than w/ Daimler.

  • qqRockyBeans

    I’d totally buy a Fiat or Dodge Panda!

  • Bryce

    Hopefully this marriage will also not only last a little longer than that with Chrysler, but also be a bit more fruitful than just getting the crossfire. Maybe Chrysler could get some new platforms to base its vehicles off of than its crappy 25 year old Mitsubishi made platforms. (yes…..long ago and far away….Chrysler and Mitsubishi worked together)

  • Charles

    When the rumor was GM was going to buy Chrysler, I thought GM would be nuts to pay for Chrysler. In fact I think it would have been nuts for GM to take Chrysler at any cost. Chrysler has some Jeep products and trucks that may be good vehicles. The Chrysler cars I have rented over the last three years really suck. GM needed good cars, Chrysler needed good cars. A marriage would have created a company that had way too many trucks and not nearly enough cars.

    Fiat has cars, and needs trucks and US dealers. Chrysler needs car, has trucks and US dealers. This makes for a good marriage. If not for the Nissan/Renault relationship, Renault might be a good match with Chrysler. Peugeot/Citroen would be wise to look at a Chrysler if Peugeot/Citroen want US dealerships.

    I am not sure Chrysler can survive long enough to do Fiat any good if Fiat does not invest some cash. If I were part of Chrysler’s management I would be looking for cash from Fiat and Peugeot/Citroen.

  • RKRB

    -A couple of years ago we visited Italy and rented a Fiat Punto diesel wagon for a couple of weeks (the Punto seemed roughly the same size as a Focus) and were impressed. The car had plenty of room, a solid feel, was a pleasure to drive, and received slightly over 40 mpg. The beautiful countryside surely helped, but this was one of the European autos that Americans rent and ask “why can’t we get one over here.”
    -Fiat seems to have put some care into their design teams and may make a nice addition to the US market. I hope their marketing teams know what they are doing, but this sounds interesting. I wish them well. Now, if only they can bring some of that Tuscan lighting too.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    We don’t need little micro cars that we hate to be in. They are only going to prolong the inevitable and make us miserable in the process. We need efficient vehicles that don’t require petroleum.

  • AP

    Chrysler/Fiat makes more sense than Chrysler/GM, but Chrysler is still in dire straits. We’ll see…..

  • Stefano

    I am Italian. I am very plased to discover your general good feel about Fiat’s cars.
    In any case, I agree with ex-EV1-driver: the right (maybe only) way is to leave as soon as possible any carbon combustion based energy (oil, gas, coal, biofuels, etc…).
    The bad news for ex-EV1-driver is that EVs are small, too!! 🙂

  • ex-EV1 driver

    EVs don’t have to be small. See the RAV4EV and the S10EV:
    A good idea is a good idea. Detriot doesn”t want to threaten their beloved big vehicle market and newcomers have to start small because it is easier.

  • Tom Spencer

    I have driven vintage Alfa Romeo and Lancia and Fiat vehicles since I was a teenager and learned to drive. There is no joy like going down the interstate in an Alfa spider except doing the same thing in Tuscany.

    I wish we could temporarily lighten the standards for “light vehicle” (mini car) diesel emissions. I personally believe that wedding a Fiat direct injection power train to a hybrid system would easily give us huge fuel efficiency.

    As a resident of eastern NC where tobacco has almost died, we would welcome the ability to sell corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, etc. to be burned in diesel engines. These fuels are all more efficient than corn produced methanol.

    Fiat, bring it on! I miss you. My cars are aged and tired (like me), and I hope to drive a new Fiat, Alfa, or Lancia in the US soon!

  • ulisse di bartolomei

    The Fiat patent fraud. About the Fiat hybrids, the technology double clutch with electric motor between has been stolen by a patent that Fiat Company has never wanted to purchase, but only shamelessly to copy. I invite to visit my blog where her “vitality” and boldness of the Fiat planners it appears in all of evidence:
    If the industries can afford unpunished to copy the ideas and defending it need very expensive trial, to which target need the patents? How our young people can find intellectual courage if the economic potentates crush the rights of the single ones? How to defend the rights of private inventors? Whoever is about to ask for a patent or wants to propose a proper patent to a great firm I suggest to give a look to my experience with the Fiat, to get able to operate with best adroitness. Thanks and good time to everybody. Ulisse Di Bartolomei

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