Fiat will market the Fiat 500 at Chrysler dealerships in about 11/2 years, a Fiat spokesman says.
The 500 will be the only Fiat or Fiat-derived car that will be sold in Chrysler dealerships badged as a Fiat. New vehicles derived from Fiat platforms will be sold with Chrysler brands.
"The Fiat 500 -- we see that, like the Mini, as a sort of boutique car that we think we can sell in good numbers on the East and West coasts in the same way that Mini has been successful in the U.S.," says Richard Gadeselli, vice president of Fiat communications in Italy.
Meanwhile, he says, Chrysler will design and engineer its own vehicles from Fiat platforms. Chrysler is planning six small or mid-sized vehicles based on Fiats.
"There is a misconception out there that Chrysler is going to build the Fiat Bravo, just stick a different badge on it" and do other rebadging, Gadeselli says.
"They will be Chrysler products," Gadeselli says. "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."
The vehicles will not share sheet metal with Fiat vehicles, Gadeselli says. The 500, he says, will be the only model badged as a Fiat in the United States.
The original 500 two-door debuted in 1957 and gained wide acceptance as a low-priced, practical tiny car similar to the Volkswagen Beetle and Mini of that era. The 500 was sold until 1975.
The current 500, which captures the styling heritage of the original, debuted in 2007 as a front-drive hatchback.
Fiat is on track to control Chrysler when the American automaker emerges from U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
(Source: Automotive News)