After the deal with Fiat to take on Chrysler was officially signed-off today, a few details are now starting to emerge about what exactly Chrysler is going to be building, and selling, now it’s effectively being controlled by Fiat.
Many thought there would be an influx of less than reliable, less than worthy Fiats simply having a Chrysler badge stuck on and marketed across the Pond. But, very sensibly, it seems not. In fact, the only Fiat that will make the treck to the US (or be built in Chrysler’s plant in Mexico) is the Fiat 500. Which actually makes a great deal of sense.
The Yanks are a partisan lot. They’ve bought essentially poor products from the big three US car makers for years simply because the are ‘American’. And there is much to be praised in that attitude. It may, in the grown-up world in which we live, be a little naive, but it’s a damn sight better than the Brit cynicism where we constantly moan and denigrate our own.
So despite the fact that our colonial cousins are perfectly well-aware that Fiat will be calling the shots, they want to buy an American car. And frankly, sticking a Chrysler badge on the back of a Fiat Punto will be about as convincing as calling Daewoo a Chevvy (sorry, I forgot. They already do that – and no one is convinced!).
But the Fiat 500 is different. It’s an icon – in both style and substance. And there are enough Americans who know a bit about cars for the 500 to have a ready market – particularly on the West and East Coasts. But as for the rest of the Fiat range – even the Alfa Romeo MiTo, which any car-loving Yank would relish – it won’t work.
So although a lot of engines and platforms will come from Fiat they will, as Richard Gadeselli of Fiat said:
…be Chrysler products. They will be specific to Chrysler. The vehicle architectures will be based on our stuff, and there will be some powertrains. The vehicles will be U.S. vehicles, designed for U.S. customers by a U.S. company.
What a lot of sense. And the other plus for those lucky Americans is that they might well end up with the Ford KA in America, if Chrysler build the 500 in Mexico as we reported recently. But it will apparently take 18 months for this to happen. Surely they can homologate quicker than that?