We reported last week that, contrary to rumours flying around, Fiat will not be taking its range of cars to the States and simply sticking Chrysler badges on. It is their intention to provide platforms and some engines to their newly acquired Chrysler operation, and develop cars in America just for the American market. But, as we said, there is one exception – the Fiat 500.
Fiat has obviously taken a good look at what BMW has managed with the MINI and thought ‘We can do that’. After all, the Fiat 500 is a car very similar in concept to the MINI. Designed to evoke a motoring icon, but made very much 21st century in its execution, both the MINI and the Fiat 500 have gone down a storm in Europe. And the MINI has been well received in the US. Fiat wants a piece of the action.
Richard Gadeselli, a Fiat spokesman in Turin, has now confirmed our report that the 500 is off to the States, and has further confirmed our 18 month timescale by saying Fiat wants the 500 to be on sale in the States by Christmas 2010. Which does seem a long time, but in terms of getting a new car is to the US market it’s not.
So Fiat has started ‘Operation Schmooze’ to get Americans acquainted with the dinky Fiat 500. This week the Fiat 500 has been photographed cruising down Wall Street, and earlier in the week was the star attraction at an event at the Italian Consulate in New York.
As we said before, we think the Fiat 500 has a good chance of capturing a niche market in the US. After we wrote about the 500 going to the States last week one guy from the States left a comment saying the 500 was just too small for the States. We disagree, and we reckon the 500 will find a ready market as a stylish, fun and economical city car in places like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
One fly in the ointment is yesterday’s report that the J.D. Power Survey in the UK put Fiat at the bottom of the heap. Which doesn’t auger well for America’s future relationship with Fiat. But our guess is that if the 500 had been treated as a seperate marque (as MINI is) it would have done an awful lot better than Fiat as a whole.
Look out America. The Fiat 500 is coming!
I agree with Obione. They need to convince themselves to small cars… When I was in US in 2003, the Focus was the smallest car Ford was offering. In EU we have Fiesta and Ka – 2 size smaller. Currently You have Fiesta in US. Time will come for Ka…
I think trendy Americans will lap up the Fiat 500. It’s got a good chance of being seen like the Mini, and that works for a good number of Americans, But they should get on and sort out the Alfa Romeo Mito as well. I think that would work really well.