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Fiat Cars and Trucks

Also see the Chrysler-Fiat Alliance

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Dan Minick provided the following table of current Fiat models. Note that the table starts in 2005, so a model that existed before 2005 would still be listed as starting in 2005. Fiat appears to have a large variety of platforms in the B and C ranges, and has been consolidating them in recent years. (See the big graphic in the Chrysler-Fiat Alliance page and Fiat commercial vans.) Several platforms have been, or are being, dropped, and all C and D cars will likely come from the same C-EVO platform and an extended version of the same C-EVO. The D and E platforms are to be replaced by Chrysler's LX/LC/LD.

Fiat representatives said that they intended to build Chrysler vehicles at the Abarth plant they recently purchased, along with their own vehicles, for European sale.

Automotive News learned in mid-2009 that Chrysler plans to use six Fiat models. One is the Fiat Panda Cross, a 1.3-liter-diesel powered off-road vehicle that gets nearly 40 mpg and would likely be sold as a Jeep in 2011 with a 1.2 or 1.4 liter gasoline engine.

Three Maseratis will be based on Chrysler designs: the Levante, Quattroporte, and Ghibli.

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Brian Meyer pointed out, "Fiat had a large part in designing the Suzuki SX4/Fiat Sedici, a small cross-over. It has an interesting AWD setup with 3 driver-selectable modes: FWD for maximum economy; iAWD for processor controlled application of the rear wheels as needed; and 4WD that locks the transfer unit to provide power front and rear in slippery situations like mud and snow."

The 1.2 liter gas engine has two valves per cylinder and generates 60 bhp and 75 lb-ft of torque, but gets a combined 48 US mpg (EU standards). The diesel produces 70 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque, with a combined 56 US mpg. With the 1.2 liter gas engine, the Fiat Grande Punto does 0-60 in 14 seconds; with the diesel, in 13 seconds. With the 1.4 liter engine, drivers would get 100 horsepower and 97 lb-ft of torque; with the six-speed manual, drivers could expect 37 mpg (combined) and a 0-60 time of around 9.5 seconds, which is respectable.

Fiat has a Tetrafuel design to allow engines to run on four different fuels for greater flexibility (and sales in countries that run alcohol, such as Brazil); it can take pure gas, E100 ethanol, E25 ethanol blend, and compressed natural gas. A new intake valve control system increases gas mileage and engine responsiveness; direct injection diesel technology cuts emissions and noise; and small turbocharged four-cylinder engines can replace V6 or big four-cylinder engines with better mileage. Coming up, Fiat will have lightweight seat frames, electric power steering, a dual dry clutch transmission, and a two-cylinder gas engine that produces four-cylinder power.

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Other vehicles, all of which would be built in the United States, would likely include:

  • Fiat Grande Punto and Linea: a hatchback and four-door sedan due in 2012, probably to be sold as Dodges, with a 1.4 liter engine.
  • A new compact SUV based on the Fiat C-Evo platform, arriving around 2012, with front wheel drive and all wheel drive versions.
  • A four-door sedan due after 2012, possibly replacing the Sebring and Avenger, based on a stretched version of the C-Evo platform. Both could be built on the same assembly lines.
  • Alfa Romeo version of the Grand Cherokee (to be sold in Europe and the US)
  • Other vehicles might be made and sold under the Fiat and Alfa labels. There has been speculation that Alfa or Lancia would replace the Chrysler brand, which some say has been irrevocably tarnished by the 1979 "close call," the 1998-2007 Daimler era, and the bankruptcy. However, nothing official has been stated, and it's likely that decisions have simply not been made. In Europe, the Chrysler and Lancia lines will be merged, and both cars will be sold as Lancia in continental Europe, as Chrysler in the UK and Ireland.

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In addition, some vehicles that could be imported or built in the Americas include:

  • Alfa Romeo MiTo - a small car but bigger than Fiat 500
  • Alfa Romeo Milano - sporty hatchback somewhat smaller than the BMW 3-series
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia - sedan on the same C-Evo platform as the Milano, but on a greatly extended wheelbase, possibly larger than the Sebring/Avenger
  • Alfa Romeo 8C - $299,000 two-seater with 450-hp V8 (4.6 liters)

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Roberto Giolito, designer of the popular Fiat 500, said (June 30, 2009) that Chrysler will build four versions of the mini-car beginning in 2011. The lineup will include the standard 500 hatchback, a convertible, a station wagon and a sporty "tuner" hatch based on the Abarth version of the 500. According to Fiat, an all-wheel-drive CUV is a possibility. All the versions will be sold as Fiats. Production may be at a plant in the U.S. or at Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico assembly facility.

While Automotive News did not mention it, Chrysler could also import Fiat full-sized vans to replace the Mercedes-Freightliner Sprinter. However, with Ford and possibly GM bringing over their own European vans, Chrysler may simply choose to continue using Sprinters.

The Alfa Romeo version of the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 200C

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Dan Minick wrote:

The successor to the big Alfa 166 (large executive sized 4door), is the 2012 Alfa 169. It was suppossed to have been launched in 2009. For several years, Alfa has been poking around looking for a suitable platform' on which to base it. They want a return to rear wheel drive, and their Maserati Q platform has been deemed too expensive. Talks were held with Daimler several years ago, and a plan was under way to base it off of an E-class platform, but in 2007 agreements broke off with Daimler due to difference of opinions and plans. So, the search for a suitable platform was under way again.
by Terry Parkhurst

Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A. have announced that they are going to build and sell cars together. The Chrysler-Fiat deal exchanges 35% of Chrysler's equity for complete access to Fiat's car line (excluding non-Fiat-branded cars such as Alfa-Romeo), and access to Fiat's distribution capabilities overseas.

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Immediate plans are to bring over the Fiat 500 hatchback and a related Dodge-branded Fiat Panda, the Alfa Romeo MiTo subcompact and a related Dodge-branded car, a vehicle based on Fiat's upcoming C-Evo platform (possibly replacing the Caliber) and an Alfa Romeo 147 replacement, and a midsized car based on the C-Evo.

The cars are to be built by Chrysler, whose plants are nearly all in North America. Automotive News' latest wrap-up says that Chrysler plans to bring eight new vehicles to North America (not all hitting Canada), four to be branded under Chrysler marques and three under the Fiat or Alfa-Romeo names. All will be built at Chrysler's facilities and sold at their stores. The vehicles would be based on four Fiat platforms, ranging from the smallest, the A, to the mid size D. They would replace the Caliber (C) and Avenger (D), possibly with the 200C filling in the D segment.

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Fiat produces 2.2 million cars annually and is the fifth largest producer of automobiles in Europe, according to Marchionne. It builds Lancia and Alfa-Romeo, in relatively small volumes. The company has been in business for 104 years, and is the largest truck producer in Europe, on track to be the largest in China by 2010. Fiat is also the second largest agricultural machinery manufacturer in the world.

Fiat has often shared its designs with other automakers, so that those behind the Iron Curtain or in India could easily buy a Fiat made by a local company. This is also not the first time that Fiat has linked up with an American auto company; in 2000, GM had a 20% share of Fiat, but when Fiat recapitalized, GM's share went down to 10%. GM paid Fiat $2 billion to get out of a put option in 2005; ironically, today (early February 2009), Fiat is worth $12.87 billion to GM's $12.67 billion.

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At the same time, the Europe-only Ford Ka is a Fiat 500 with a Ford exterior and interior, built by Fiat in Poland. Abarth was an after market company that tweaked Fiats in the 1960s, and is now a nameplate similar to AMG or SRT.

The biggest obstacle to Fiat's alliance with Chrysler might be the reputation it left with American enthusiasts, back in what amounted to a heyday for small foreign cars, in the 1960s and 1970s. Jay Gesner's nine rules of Fiat ownership, as printed in AutoWeek (2003), included:

  • A Fiat constantly strives to return to the earth. Rocker panels come from the factory with drain holes pre-clogged, and the seats are foam rubber sponges designed to hold water directly against the sheet metal.
  • They used two different wiring diagrams - both wrong.

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The key to the success of any Fiat-Chrysler cars ultimately lies with the price point and number needed to be profitable. The Fiat 500, for example, must be cheaper than the Mini, which has the BMW reputation behind it, and the Fiat Panda should be cheaper than the Toyota iQ. While a basic Mini can be had for about $18,000, a Mini Cooper S, equipped with a convenience package that includes Bluetooth, 17 inch alloy wheels, a limited slip differential and a turbocharged 1.6 liter engine backed by a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission, lists for $27,200. (A UK-specification Fiat 500 starts at around US$12,000.)

Over the next few weeks, we will feature various cars and Fiat powertrains that are likely to end up in Sterling Heights, Belvidere, and Toluca. We are starting with the Fiat 500.

The history of Fiat

On 11 July 1899, the company charter of "Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino" was signed. The first factory opened in 1900 with 150 workers, including the 3/12 HP which only had forward gears. Giovanni Agnelli, a founding investor, became Managing Director in 1902, the same year he set a record in an 8HP; the company logo was adopted in 1904. In 1908, Fiat's American company was formed. By 1910, Fiat was making cars, commercial vehicles, marine engines, trucks, and trams. Another factory, the largest in Europe, was completed in 1922, including a test track on the roof. During the 1930s, the company expanded into aviation and railway production, while investing in technology; in 1936, the Topolino, the smallest "utilitarian" car in the world until 1955, was introduced.

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Fiat provided SIMCA (later part of Chrysler Europe) a boost; Fiat designs were made and sold by SIMCA. The company was formed in 1934 to build Fiats for France; this followed a company called SAFAF which had built 30,000 French Fiats under license.
SIMCA's first cars were based upon the Tipo 508 Balilla, but these were soon added to with variations of the 518 Ardita. The Fiat 500 Topolino soon became the SIMCA Cinq (5), and the Fiat 1100, the SIMCA Huit (8). Performance versions of these cars were prepared by Amédé Gordini, who successfully campaigned at Le Mans in a SIMCA Huit in 1939. Not until 1951 did SIMCA start designing and building its own designs, even as they continued making the Huit.

In 1953, Fiat brought out its first diesel, the 1400; two years later, it brought out the big Fiat 600, which featured a rear-mounted engine. the New 500 was shown in 1957, and produced in 1960.

In 1979, Fiat's auto works were set up as an independent company, Fiat Auto S.p.A., which included Fiat, Lancia, Autobianchi, Abarth, and Ferrari. Half of Ferrari was purchased at first, with Fiat later holding 87%; in 1984, Fiat took over Alfa Romeo, and in 1993 it took over Maserati. The popular Fiat Panda, which would later spawn the revived 500, appeared in 1980; the ubiquitous Fiat Uno arrived in 1982. In 1991, the 500, based on the Panda, came out; in 1995, the Fiat Punto was named Car of the Year. VansReviewsFreemontForum

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