Speed and power was never the calling card of this cute, little Italian import we’ve come to love as the Fiat 500. Despite not having the trademark Italian machismo than it’s more powerful compatriot – hello, Ferrari – is known for, the Fiat 500 is special for a very different reason. It’s cute, it’s affordable, and it’s a lot of fun to drive. Safe to say, it’s three of the most important things that people look for in a car. And if you’ve ever wondered how popular the little hatch is, look no further than the 60 plus awards it has bagged, including the 2008 European Car of the Year and the 2009 World Car Design of the Year.
And now that Fiat has a stake in Chrysler, it would have been a crime if SEMA came along and the Fiat 500 wasn’t there to introduce itself to the land of Ford and the home of Chevrolet. Fortunately, the neckties over at Chrysler thought of the same idea and, together with Mopar Underground, have decided to give the 500 a nice dress up for its introduction to the American market.
Continued after the jump.
After a long and lengthy absence, Fiat is finally returning to the US, and they’re bringing with them the 500 hatchback. The US-spec version of the minicar, which will be sold in the US through Chrysler, is set to make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, giving us a first-hand look at Fiat’s first offering to the US market after an extended absence in the country.
Earlier this week, the Italian auto conglomerate hosted a meeting with 400 of its car dealers to gauge the amount of interest for the 500 in America. Apart from these dealerships, Chrysler is also looking at opening about 165 Fiat dealerships across the country, more specifically in areas where there is a healthy market for small hatchbacks that the 1.4-liter 500 hatchback can take full advantage of.
According to Laura Soave, Head of Fiat Brand North America, “Our dealers will be able to interact with a group of individuals that are not part of their current customer base.”
“These are individuals interested in Italian automotive design coupled with fuel efficient technology," she adds.
As part of Fiat’s return to the US, the company is set to begin their retail network later this year with plans of bringing in the American version of the 500 and following that up with the release of the 500 Cabrio edition sometime in 2011.
It is no surprise that everyone seems to be going green these days. Yes, a lot of the hustle and bustle is due to the growing concern over our environment, but we will bet on the fact that some of it has to do with another type of greenery. We are talking cold hard cash and with the introduction of the Nissan Leaf (great green name by the way) it is no surprise to us that Chrysler is ready to join the ranks of us tree-huggers. Chrysler announced today that it will jump into the electric car market starting with an electric version of the Fiat 500 with production beginning in 2012. The Fiat 500EV will more than likely be modeled after the prototype demonstrated in January at the North American International Show in Detroit. It will be Chrysler’s first electric vehicle and will feature three main systems to power its engine; an electric powertrain module, a lithium ion battery, and a control unit to manage power flows. The demo previewed at the auto show boasted a range of over 100 miles, but Chrysler would not comment on the range of the production model.
Chrysler kicks off the annual Woodward Dream Cruise today, making a huge splash with the introduction of the new 2007 Chrysler PT Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition-a special-edition PT Cruiser dedicated to one of the most picturesque driving routes in the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway. Announced in conjunction with Detroit’s famed Woodward Dream Cruise, the Pacific Coast Highway Edition will be available later this summer as a limited-production version of the 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser.