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Chrysler may have Fiat car for U.S. in 2 years

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler President and Vice-Chairman Jim Press says the company could have a Fiat-based car ready to sell in the U.S. market within two years.

Press, who was speaking at a conference in New Orleans, declined to go into specifics about which Fiat car might be selected or how whether it would be sold as a Chrysler or Fiat but Steve Landry, executive v-p of sales, said the Detroit automaker is considering three of Fiat’s smallest cars, the 500, Punto and Panda.

Also left open was the question of where the car would be built. Chrysler has plenty of capacity and retooling of a Chrysler plant is part of the proposed alliance, but Fiat is looking at what could be the weakest auto production year in Italy since 1961. Production of the popular 500 would help Chrysler, but not Fiat’s Italian plants as the car is produced in Tychy, Poland alongside the new Ford Ka, which shares the 500’s underpinnings.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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