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Fiat to produce “baby” SUV at Mirafiori; keep Compass/Patriot in U.S.

by Bill Cawthon on

Automotive News reports Fiat will build a “baby” Jeep in Italy for the European and possibly the U.S. markets.

Two company sources told Automotive New Europe that the new vehicle will be produced in the Fiat Mirafiori plant alongside a similar vehicle for the Fiat brand that will replace the Sedici, as well as a subcompact Alfa Romeo to be sold in Europe and North America.

The new Jeep will be smaller than the Patriot and Compass. It will be based on Fiat’s SUSW architecture, a wider, U.S.-compliant version of Fiat’s European Small architecture. The first products to be built on the new platform will be two small minivans Fiat will produce in at its Zastava plant in Serbia.

This latest strategy would seem to confirm the replacement for the Patriot and Compass, and an Alfa Romeo model on the same platform, will be built in the U.S.

Information independently obtained by Allpar.com confirms Fiat’s intention to install the most updated version of one of its three main architectures at Mirafiori. The cmpany says it will be used for various models and multiple brands.

Development of the manufacturing infrastructure will begin in 2012 and commencement of production of the Jeep SUV is expected in the second half of 2013.

“This is an important step in our plans to re-industrialize our Italian manufacturing backbone in view of current market developments and the increased distribution reach provided by Chrysler Group” added Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive of Fiat and Chrysler Group. “This leading-edge architecture will allow us to provide the most updated platforms for the development of our brands, and more importantly, will allow us to access the full powertrain offerings of both Fiat and Chrysler.”

Production of the Alfa Romeo Mito, including new and updated versions, is confirmed at Mirafiori.

In addition, a new gasoline direct injection turbo engine for Alfa Romeo is to be developed in Italy for production at the FMA plant in Pratola Serra beginning in early 2013.

Designed for both transversal and longitudinal applications, the new 4-cylinder engine will have a displacement of 1.8 liters and maximum output of 300 hp, setting a new performance standard in its category. It will also be compliant with future emissions standards in both Europe (Euro 6) and the U.S. (Tier 2 Bin 5).

Made entirely of aluminum, the engine will incorporate the most advanced technological content, including a 200-bar gasoline direct injection system, dual variable timing and a high-efficiency turbocharger.

The aluminum architecture, combined with the most innovative technologies, will offer power-to-weight ratio, fuel efficiency, acoustic and vibrational comfort, and driving performance that are the very best in its category and characteristic of Alfa Romeo engines.

“This is an extremely important step for Alfa Romeo, as we continue to reposition our brand and prepare it for global distribution. The United States remains our primary objective as we prepare for a 2013 introduction of our models,” added Harald J. Wester, Fiat’s Chief Technology Officer and head of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati Brands. “The dedication of Group-wide resources to develop specific powertrain solutions for the specific needs of Alfa Romeo is a reflection of the renewed thrust we are placing on the development of this brand. This is a first step in a series of initiatives to be implemented in the near future which will reconnect Alfa Romeo to its historical roots as a premium Italian sports car brand.”

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 just-auto.com, 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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