Around one quarter of the workers at the Chrysler four-cylinder engine plant in Dundee, Michigan, have been laid off due to slow sales of the Fiat 500, according to Larry Vellequette of Automotive News, citing a local union official.

1.4 liter MultiAir Fiat FIRE engine turbocharged

Chrysler reportedly has a 184 day supply of the Fiat 500, with varied sales depending on region. California and the Southeast appear to be the Fiat's biggest markets, with the midwest slumping.

The Fiat 500 is sold at a premium price for a small car, but is still far less costly than the BMW Mini. However, Chrysler did not start serious advertising the car until recently, and many dealerships opened later than expected.

While early US-specification Fiat 500s used Fiat-built engines, the Toluca, Mexico plant which builds the cars is now relying on engines made in Michigan. The upcoming Abarth model, to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, will use a turbocharged version of the same engine, also made by Chrysler.

The length of the layoff is currently unknown. Chrysler-built Fiat 500s are also to be sold in South America and Mexico, where Fiat is well-established; half the plant's output is set for each geographic region.

The 1.4 liter engine is also expected to be used in the car currently referred to as the Dodge Hornet and other future vehicles.