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Fiat 500: Will four versions on offer sell Americans on small car?

June 28, 1:42 PM ·

Fiat 500C: Is being cute enough?

For years, small cars have been like bran cereal for most U.S. buyers: They'll buy them when then really have to, but as soon as they get regular again, it's buh, bye!

As an example, Honda sold 53,299 Civics in May of 2008 and only 17,302 in December of 2008, that's around a 67% drop. Granted there were other factors at play, but the economic meltdown doesn't explain the entire drop, lower gas prices had a lot to do with it.

As I reported yesterday, Fiat will offer at least four versions of its 500 for American buyers to choose from. Will that kind of selection prevent a rapid rise and fall like smart has experienced? Fiat would much rather emulate MINI which has cultivated a profitable niche for its relatively expensive, small cars here in the USA.

If Fiat can position the 500 as a lower cost MINI competitor, its stand to reap tremendous benefits: Not only through direct sales, but also through dealership traffic. A small car like the 500 is never going to sell in huge numbers here in the States, but it can act like a drop of honey attracting buyers that will ultimately drive off with another Chrysler product.

If nothing else, the Fiat 500 will signal to Americans that the reinvention of Chrysler has begun. Even though the 500 won't be labeled as a Chrysler, it will be the first obvious mark of the company's new Italian overlords. For that reason alone, the importance of the Fiat 500 in America cannot be overstated.

Article Link:Fiat 500: Will four versions on offer sell Americans on small car?
 

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Pictures

Until the 1938 Bentley came along and started distracting people's attention, nothing - not even the peerless cakes at the nearby café - had quite the same effect on visitors to Hive Beach on the Dorset coast as the line of two dozen or so Fiat 500 Cs which had been settled in the car park while the journalists who were driving them relaxed during a mid-morning stop on the UK press launch.

Fiat 500 C | Road Tests, Auto Features
 

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"window to the sky"

Fiat 500C: much more than a "window to the sky"

June 26, 2009

Unveiled to the world for the first time at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the new Fiat 500C pays homage to the original 1957 Fiat 500 and its fabric roof, but also offers innovative solutions in terms of mechanical design, engines and comfort. All this in line with the most authentic Fiat tradition of giving people access to segment firsts in content and technology.
In Italy, the public will be able to take it for a test drive from July 4th, the birthday of the Fiat 500 and exactly two years after the launch of the model that really raised the bar in terms of comfort, safety, technology and features.

Using a typical open-source approach (i.e. continually evolving a successful product on the basis of input from its users), the Centro Stile Fiat design centre created the 500C by interacting with the many communities of Cinquecento enthusiasts - notably the 500 Wants You website - and reinforcing the position of the model as "a car for the people, by the people"..
Starting from the saloon version, the introduction of the soft top does not change the winning characteristics of the model such as its four comfortable seats and boot capacity, but it does add new functions that heighten enjoyment. These include easier access to the boot even when the soft top is fully open, thanks to a clever system of parallelogram hinges.

Another strong point of the original cabriolet version is its exceptional climate and acoustic comfort. Thorough aerodynamic research means that the turbulence experienced with the roof open has been reduced to a minimum, allowing full enjoyment of the fresh air and the company of fellow passengers.
The decision to re-interpret the original design in modern key, with an electric sliding roof but a stylistic design that retains the shape of the classic car makes the Fiat 500C less of a seasonal product and one that can be enjoyed the whole year round. In short, all these features make this new vehicle one of the most successful convertibles in the modern city-car segment.

A true object of design, the soft top of the Fiat 500C stands out for its elegant electrically controlled movements and its impressively finished and carefully selected technical features, from the glass rear window to the third brake light built into the soft top itself. Available in three colours (ivory, red and black), the clever soft top is matched with various paint finishes including three ad-hoc creations: a pearlescent Ragamuffin Red, a Tech House Grey so typical of sporty super cars, and Goth-Metal Blue (the latter available for the whole range).

The Fiat 500C has an exclusive feel to its interior, which is embellished with top quality and highly desirable fabrics, including Frau leather upholstery, and a long list of market-dependent standard and optional features: from automatic climate control to the innovative Interscope HiFi System, from the Blue&Me Map portable navigation unit to the smart wind-stop, and from the Start&Stop system to the new collection of customisable options.
A free and emotive expression of the automobile, the Fiat 500C retains the same dimensions as the base model (355 cm long, 165 cm wide and 149 cm high) and shares all three of its power units: the 75 HP 1.3-litre MultiJet turbodiesel engine combined with a five-speed manual gearbox and the two 69 HP 1.2 litre and 100 HP 1.4 litre petrol engines, both available with manual or Dualogic robotised gearbox. Each engine offers different qualities, but all three are defined by generosity and a lively temperament, as well as high performance and sophisticated technology. Among their common qualities are great reliability and respect for the environment (all are Euro5-approved). To confirm Fiat Automobiles' commitment to environmental protection and sustainable mobility, the 500C includes the innovative “Start&Stop” system, which controls the temporary cutting out of the engine and its subsequent restarting. When the vehicle stops, putting the gear lever in neutral and releasing the clutch will switch off the engine; to restart, simply put the car back into gear.

With the commercial launch of its latest convertible, the Fiat 500 continues to be talked about and confirms its status as a real Italian style icon, able to win over the public and critics worldwide. The best evidence of its success are the 30 awards it has won across the globe, the 11 million internet users that have visited its website (viewing a total of 200 million pages) and the more than 360,000 orders so far received across the 59 markets in which it is being sold.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that more than half the sales have been recorded outside Italy (50% elsewhere in Europe and 8% in the rest of the world). In each country where it has been launched, the Fiat 500 has generated enormous interest: in Japan, for example, there have been more than 5,000 orders. It should also be highlighted that 80% of Fiat 500 clients select the most expensive features and 90% ask for the Blue& Me system.

In short, as an expression of Italy's finest automotive design, the 500 is not merely a super-compact city car, but a real platform upon which Fiat Automobiles is building a whole family of cars with advanced technology and high attention to detail. The new 500C represents another step forward in this direction.


Complete Press Report from Fiat w/pictures & all specifications

Fiat 500C: much more than a "window to the sky" - Press Files - Fiat Group Automobiles Press
 

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US Built Fiat 500?

Fiat 500 may be built in Belvidere

Jun 29, 2009 @ 10:02 PM

Edmunds.com, one of the top automotive trade publications in the United States, reported today that the Fiat 500 will be built in the United States and that the Chrysler Group LLC plant in Belvidere is a possibility.

Many analysts expected the small 500 would be built in Mexico, where wages aren’t as high, since smaller cars have very low profit margins.

Edmunds.com reported at least four versions of the 500 are in the works — two hatchbacks, a convertible and a wagon — with a four-wheel-drive SUV version under consideration as well. The cars will be badged as Fiats and are expected in showrooms by 2011.

Belvidere’s Chrysler plant has been closed since May 1 — a day after Chrysler LLC went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Workers there now assemble the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. When the plant does reopen — which is expected to happen by the end of July — it will have about 1,700 workers on one shift.

Fiat SpA is running the new Chrysler Group LLC, which is owned in part by Fiat, the United Auto Workers and the U.S. and Canadian governments. The Fiat 500 was a centerpiece of the drive to put Chrysler under the Italian company’s control because Chrysler had no competitive small cars to offer and none under development.

LINK:Fiat 500 may be built in Belvidere - - BusinessRockford.com
 

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