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Maserati Levante SUV may be built in Italy after all

Thu, 05 Sep 2013 10:01:00 EST

In July Fiat halted its investments in Italy, putting on hold plans for the Maserati Levante SUV to be built at the automaker's flagship factory in Turin. But Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, whose company owns Maserati, met with unions on Wednesday, and he may announce plans to move forward with production of the SUV at the Mirafiori factory if the CEO and the unions reach an agreement, Bloomberg reports.
Marchionne is reportedly about ready to build new cars at Fiat's largest and oldest factory, on the grounds that 5,300 workers accept extended temporary layoffs through most of next year in a slowing European auto market. If unions don't accept the deal, it's not clear whether Fiat would still consider building the Levante at Mirafiori or not.
The Levante, Maserati's first SUV, is based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform, and we reported two years ago that it would be built in Detroit next to its Jeep cousin. Obviously those plans have been altered considerably in the intervening period of time.

Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:59:00 EST

Abarth presented its original 595 at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. It was the car that put the Scorpion marque on the map and propelled the original Fiat 500 into hot hatch territory. And to mark that occasion, Fiat's performance brand is launching the special edition you see here.
Revealed here ahead of its public debut at next week's Frankfurt Motor Show, the new Abarth 595 50th Anniversary Edition packs a 1.4-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower (20 more than the standard 500 Abarth) channeled through the Abarth Competizione gearbox to the front wheels. The Scorpion brand has also retuned the suspension, fitted 305-millimeter Brembo discs, 17-inch wheels and installed a variable back-pressure exhaust.
Billed as the most powerful 595 to date, the special edition is identifiable by its matte white paint, red racing stripes and retro logos. Step inside and you'll find red leather buckets with white trim. Only 299 examples will be made, but don't go looking for this in US showrooms, as the Abarth range and the Fiat 500 upon which it's based is different in the two markets. Read more in the official press release below.

Fiat celebrates 30 years of Panda 4x4 with Antartica edition [w/poll]

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 08:28:00 EST

Typically, 4x4s are rather large affairs, but the Fiat Panda stands resolutely against the trend. And what's more, it's done just that for 30 years now, over the course of which Fiat has rolled out three successive generations and sold over 400,000 examples of the little off-roader that could. So to celebrate three decades of the Panda 4x4, Fiat is rolling out this special edition.
Called the Fiat Panda 4x4 Antartica, it's set to debut next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show alongside a new Black Code trim for the Freemont (known to us as the Dodge Journey) and an anniversary edition Abarth 595. Fiat has based this special edition on the Panda 4x4 Rock and upgraded it with two-tone paint, 15-inch diamond-finish alloys, orange trim, fog lights, tinted glass and special badging. Inside, it's got gray and orange upholstery, and European buyers can order it up with either the 85-horsepower 900cc TwinAir engine or the 75hp 1.3-liter diesel.
A limited run will reach European showrooms by the end of the year. But we wonder... should Fiat consider bringing the Panda Stateside to share floor space with the diminutive 500? Have your say in our informal poll below, and feel free to read through the press release, too.

Chinese Jeep production confirmed with Fiat, Guangzhou agreement

Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:01:00 EST

Fiat has just finalized a deal originally set up in January between it and China's Guangzhou Automotive Group to bring Jeep production to China. It remains unclear which models will be built, although we're wagering that it'll be the 2014 Cherokee. What we do know, now, is where production will take place.
According to Automotive News, Guangzhou originally wanted production to take place in its home assembly plant in its namesake city. Fiat has battled to send production to a joint venture facility established between Guangzhou and Fiat in the town of Changsha. The joint facility won out, and now the factory, originally built in 2010 with a 140,000-unit capacity, will see Jeeps rolling out of it.
Currently, the GAC-Fiat factory produces the Fiat Viaggio, a jointly developed product that is closely related to America's Dodge Dart. And while it remains unclear as to which model will join the Viaggio on the assembly line, that model is understood to ride on Fiat's Compact platform. The only Jeep to share those underpinnings is the new Cherokee, so there's not much connecting of dots needed to see why this scenario would make sense.

2013 Fiat 500e

Tue, 20 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST

A Juice Box With Style And Substance
It happens nearly every day, and as often as not, I'm the guilty party: someone slips an eBay Motors or Craigslist link into the fetid automotive stew that is the Autoblog editors' online chatroom. Typically, it's enough to momentarily derail an otherwise productive dialog about editing a breaking news item or researching an arcane bit of automotive history. Predictably, we've all got our favorites. Once dubbed "Mr. Other Makes" by a former coworker and friend who noticed my penchant for four-wheeled eBay esoterica, I can't help but spend at least a few minutes trawling the online classifieds every night before I go to bed, staring glassy-eyed at some basketcase Bitter SC, Inca-wheeled Saab 99 Turbo, a moonshot Plymouth Road Runner Superbird or resuming my quest to seek out the world's last remaining unmolested first-gen Nissan Sentra SE-R.
Every Autoblog staffer has their peccadilloes, Editor-in-Chief John Neff among them. His classified quests skew toward larger sport sedans that discreetly package big performance. As the former owner of a first-gen Ford Taurus SHO Plus, Neff is a serial viewer of Pontiac G8, Audi S6, Lincoln LS V8 and BMW M5 listings. Yet the current apple of his eye is the 500E. No, not the bubbly electric Fiat shown here that shares its name, but rather the imposing 1991-1994 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, a hand-built V8 monster developed and assembled with Porsche acting as Daimler's skunkworks. A rare car, its values are starting to escalate, a reality that has Neff closer than ever to pulling the trigger.

Fiat announces special 500C GQ Edition [w/video]

Sat, 17 Aug 2013 14:30:00 EST

The Fiat 500C may be a cool car, but it's never exactly exuded machismo - dare we say some may even consider it a "chick car?" Now, it looks like Fiat is trying to change this city car's image with the introduction of the 2014 Fiat 500C GQ Edition, a limited-production model geared toward male buyers.
Fiat has partnered with Condé Nast to develop this new cabrio version, which comes with "custom appointments that reflect an individual who always looks sharp, lives smart and finds freedom through the precision and turbocharged power of a driver's car." On the outside, these appointments include black 16-inch five-spoke wheels with red center caps, an athletic-looking front fascia with larger air intakes, and black headlamps. Inside, the GQ Edition includes GQ badging, specially designed sport seats, satin chrome accents, and Tungsten accent stitching. Underhood, the 500C GQ boasts a 1.4-liter, 160-horsepower MultiAir Turbo engine and five-speed manual transmission.

Fiat 500e recalled over possible half shaft separation

Wed, 14 Aug 2013 18:59:00 EST

The recently launched, all-electric Fiat 500e is already facing its first recall. According to The Detroit News, more than 270 of the EVs are being recalled to replace bolts that secure the vehicles' half shafts. The official number of affected vehicles has not been announced as of this writing, as Chrysler will not inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of this issue until it accounts for all problematic 500e models that are currently sitting on dealer lots.
Chrysler confirmed to the News that the problem is in no way related to the 500e's electric powertrain, simply the half shafts. The automaker launched an investigation into this problem after learning that a customer's vehicle experienced power loss. Engineers reportedly found that two assembly steps had not been completed, and that this could lead to half shaft separation.
No injuries or accidents related to this problem have been reported. Chrysler will contact owners of the affected 500e models, who will receive rental vehicles while their Fiats are being fixed. Of course, all repair work will be completed free of charge.

Fiat 500 Cattiva coming in Q4, priced from $18,350*

Tue, 13 Aug 2013 16:00:00 EST

When it comes to the 2013 Fiat 500 Cattiva, we already knew that the show car would make it into production, we just didn't know when... until now. Fiat has announced that the "naughty" 500 Cattiva will be unveiled at the Concorso Italiano in Monterey, CA, and it will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year, with models based on either the 500 Sport or 500 Turbo. Pricing will start at $18,350 for the Sport Cattiva - *not including $800 for destination - with the Turbo commanding an extra $2,000.
Looking almost identical to the concept car we saw earlier in the year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Fiat 500 Cattiva will have a custom look with its blacked-out headlights and taillights, 16-inch wheels and gloss black-painted roof and liftgate spoiler. The Cattiva also features a matte black instrument panel, black and gray seats (cloth is standard, leather is optional) and a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel. Scroll down for Fiat's official press release on this car, and stay tuned for live coverage of the car's unveiling this Friday.

2015 Fiat 500L Living [w/video]

Tue, 13 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST

Turning The World's Largest Fiat Into A Larger Three-Row MPV
We've explored every offering of the Fiat 500 family meant for the United States, plus all of the Abarth variations. But the 500 now also comes super-sized; we recently attended a drive of the larger 2014 Fiat 500L people-mover and its Trekking edition, and found them both to be generally enjoyable. We Americans, however, are suckers for anything that comes in an even bigger size than Large, so witness this Fiat 500L Living, which will be landing on our shores sometime in late 2014.
The essential benefit here is that this 500L is bigger (i.e. longer) by 8.3 inches, thereby adding cargo space and, to our eyes, filling out the natural profile of the slightly scrunched design of the standard 500L. You can maximize your 500L Living cargo space to 59.7 cubic feet by knocking down all the seats, or you can opt for the "+2" seating arrangement that sacrifices 3.5 cubic feet of volume for a tantalizing third row of chairs that seems to turn some consumers into dogs of Pavlov, no matter the degree of usefulness of said added row.

Chrysler's Woodward Dream Cruise festivities include Ram concept truck debut

Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:00:00 EST

The streets will be crowded next weekend along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan for the 19th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise. As part of the run-up to the festivities, Chrysler has announced that all of its brands - Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, SRT and Mopar - will bring along their latest vehicles. Also included will be a collection of classic American cars and various activities for attendees at the official Chrysler location on the corner of Woodward and 13 Mile Road.
Special to this year, Ram brand director Bob Hegbloom and head of design John Dehner will unveil a Ram concept truck on Saturday. Chrysler will also bring Ryan Friedlinghaus of West Coast Customs fame along to show off a few custom Chrysler-made vehicles of his own. Fans of the brand on Facebook will get the chance to virtually customize a vehicle from the automaker's portfolio, with the winner getting their dream car built for them by Chrysler. Pretty cool stuff, no?
As in past years, Ford and General Motors will have an official presence at the event as well, and you can expect to see plenty of cars of all makes and models from all parts of the globe. The madness starts this Friday, August 16, from 4:30 PM to 10 PM, with the main event taking place on Saturday, from 9 AM to 9 PM. For more details on the show, including events and their times, check out the press release below.