The Chrysler/Fiat tie-up has been getting enthusiasts in the U.S excited. We all knew that it was finally a matter when, not if, Fiat products would return to the U.S. Now we may know when that actually is, as plans are underway to have the Fiat 500 in Chrysler delearships for the 2010 model year.
This makes a lot of sense. By 2010 the U.S. market will be focused on smaller cars. Ford will have new Europeans in its North American lineup like the Fiesta , and General Motors will be drawing attention with the Volt . The 500 will provide Chrysler with its own showroom attraction for minimal investment (it’s rumored the 500 only need a new front bumper beam.)
Now comes the tricky part: will mainstream American buy for a European city car? We like the Fiat 500 because its a cool package for a small, agile and cheap car. But when it hits the U.S. streets it will be seen as a direct competitor to the Mini Cooper and Volkswagen Beetle . The top engine choice in the 500’s current line-up (non-Abarth) lis the 99 hp 1.4-liter four cylinder engine. That’s 19 hp less than the Mini and 51 hp less than the Beetle.
If the 500 is a success in the U.S., that could mean other products, including the drop-dead sexy Alfa Romeos (wouldn’t a Brera look great next to a 300C on the Chrysler lot...hint, hint.) All we can do now is hope that the 500’s personality will make up for its lack of power.