Abarth 500C, Punto Evo Set to Debut

If Fiat plans to bring the Punto Abarth 500C to the states, get ready for some real fun in the small car segment. We can only hope Sergio includes this little beast as part of his North American plan for Fiat/Chrysler.

From AutoGuide.com:

Fiat’s performance-minded Abarth brand will unveil two new models, based off of Fiat products that were introduced last year. Up first is the Abarth 500C, an upgraded version of the Fiat 500C (the C, standing for convertible). The car isn’t technically a convertible, but rather features a retractable cloth top and retains the roof rails. Power comes from Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder with 140-hp, allowing for a 0-62 mph time of 7.9 seconds. Also included are upgraded wheels, brakes, a new suspension setup, aero kit and stylish two-tone paint scheme. There’s no official word, but we’re likely to see this model join Fiat’s lineup in North America in the next several years – after the standard 500 and 500C are introduced.

Read the full article here.

  

Chrysler comeback closer than people think?

With all the talk about the lack of product for Chrysler and Dodge, the Detroit Free Press takes a harder look and some feel there is a lot more in the works than most give credit. In the next 12 to 18 months, look for a totally new experience when you enter a Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat showroom. The Chrysler comeback might be closer to reality than most of us could have imagined.

We feel the barometer will be how well the Fiat 500 performs when hitting the showroom floors later this year!

We all know Chrysler won’t reap the benefits of its alliance with Fiat until 2012, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. To the contrary.

This year, Chrysler plans to introduce three new vehicles that are acknowledged leaders in their segments and one new model that gets it into a growing and potentially lucrative new market.

The first Fiat model, the 500, will also arrive, giving Chrysler dealers a sophisticated and chic little car that’s smaller and considerably less expensive than the Mini Cooper.

Read the full article here.

  

Fiat 500 to go into production in December

The folks at Chrysler/Fiat have to be excited about the news that the Fiat 500 will go into production in Mexico this December! This little machine is an eye grabber and can’t come soon enough for the dealerships that will well it as a Fiat 500. The competition with the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Cruze should make for some good sport. I hear some of the salespeople at Chrysler dealerships are already comparing Marchionne to the legendary Lee Iacocca! Time will tell but hey, nothing like setting the bar high!

From AutoNews.com:

TOLUCA, Mexico (Reuters) — Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Chrysler will invest $550 million in Mexico to begin production of the compact Fiat 500 model car.

The investment will retool a production site developed by Chrysler, which emerged from bankruptcy in June under the management control of Fiat. The investment will allow the plant outside Mexico City to begin production by December, said Marchionne, who also heads Fiat.

Read full article here.

  

Lancia-based car to be shown at Detroit Auto Show

We are very interested to check out the new offering from Fiat/Chrysler with a Lancia badge. If it’s anything like the Delta that would be a great first step in introducing the new brand to potential U.S. customers.

From AutoGuide.com:

Contrary to previous reports that Chrysler will not present any new models at the Detroit Auto Show in just a few weeks, there is now word that the struggling U.S. automaker will show a new car based on a Lancia platform. The Lancia badge is a sub-brand under Fiat, which now runs Chrysler.

There is no word on what sort of a vehicle it will be, but Fiat is eager to help Chrysler where it needs help most – in the small and mid-size car market. This new model would be the first idea of how Fiat intends to integrate its European designs into the North American marketplace.

Read the full article here.

  

Marchionne says Chrysler will be profitable by 2011

The buzz around Chrysler has been very negative, so it’s rather surprising to here CEO Sergio Marchionne express such confidence about the prospects for the company.

After a four-month deep dive into the workings of Chrysler Group LLC, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne remains convinced the automaker can be profitable in two years.

The Auburn Hills automaker is on track to divulge its five-year plan on Nov. 4, to make public its quarterly financial statements next year and to offer public stock as early as 2011, he said.

A recent report by analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley supports Marchionne’s forecast. Jonas said Chrysler could report an operating profit of $841 million in 2010, but end the year with a net loss of $169 million. Full profitability is expected in 2011: $2.48 billion in operating profit and $952 million in net income, Jonas said.

In an interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Marchionne affirmed Thursday that the automaker could reach profitability in 24 months. Just a week before, the CEO contended that “we’re not bleeding as people think we are,” noting that “the level of cost consciousness at this house is probably at a historical high.”

Some had been speculating that Chrysler might not make it another year given its challenges in the market. Marchionne had fueled some of the negative speculation when he said in September that the situation at Chrysler was “worse than we thought.”

Marchionne has an incredible track record as a turnaround specialist, but Chrysler will present the ultimate challenge. The acquisition could be a stroke of genius, as Fiat paid nothing and now owns 20% of the company with full control in exchange for the contribution of small-car technology. Fiat dominates with small cars and this offer it the opportunity to return to America. They also have Alfa Romeo which presents an upscale brand.

That said, it was reported recently that there would be a new push to turn Chrysler into an upscale brand positioned a notch above Lincoln and Cadillac. As noted by many analysts, that seems like a real stretch. Chrysler is a mess, so now consumers are supposed to start paying a premium for their cars?

In any event, it’s refreshing to hear some optimism coming from Marchionne. Hopefully he can back it up.

  

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