- Fiat 500(2031)
Alfa giveth and Alfa taketh away. With apologies to Job (he has gone through a lot, after all), that's how things are looking at the Italian automaker - whether it's the promise of new products or its impending return to the North American market. But it's especially true when it comes to new roadsters.
While Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil the 4C Spider at the Geneva Motor Show this week, reports are now suggesting that its other roadster project is being called into question. That project is a joint venture between Fiat and Mazda, which was set to produce a version of its next MX-5 Miata as an Alfa Romeo, and was even changing the design to accommodate Alfa's requirements.
Now it appears, however, that the whole project in doubt. The problem seems to stem from Sergio Marchionne's pronouncements that, as long as he's in charge, there won't be an Alfa Romeo built outside of Italy.
It's been seven years since Fiat relaunched the 500, and it has, by and large, been a runaway success for the Italian automaker. Numerous variations on the theme have followed - from the convertible 500C and performance-oriented Abarth models to the 500L minivan and upcoming 500X crossover - but it's high time that Fiat give the original hatchback a bit of a refresh, and that's just what it's done... to some extent, anyway.
Debuting this week at the Geneva Motor Show, the updated 500 features a number of enhancements to keep it fresh and with (if not quite ahead of) the times. That includes a redesigned instrument cluster centered around a seven-inch TFT display developed by Magnetti Marelli. There's a new 900cc turbo two-pot TwinAir engine being offered with 105 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque that can get a Cinquecento so equipped to 62 miles per hour in 10 seconds and on to a 117-mph top speed while delivering 67 miles per gallon (at least on the European cycle). Finally there's a new Cult trim level pictured here, being added to the top of the range that builds on the Lounge trim with more equipment like 16-inch alloys, gloss black roof, chrome or gloss black wing mirrors and more.
We're still waiting to find out what, if any, of this equipment will make the jump to the US model, but for now you can scope out the press release below and the high-res images in the gallery above for a closer look.
We have never gotten the Fiat Panda in North America, but the little city car has represented the entry level into the Fiat range in Europe since 1980. Unlike many of these foreign subcompacts, it was also offered in the 4X4 trim level with a higher ride height and all-wheel drive. The Italian brand will take that idea even further at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show on March 4, with the new Panda Cross.
The Panda Cross is meant to be a city car that drivers can also take off-road if need arises. Its all-wheel drive system comes with a standard electronic-locking differential to manage torque delivery, and drivers can lock the diff, at speeds under 30 miles per hour, to improve traction further. The mini off-roader comes with either a 1.3-liter diesel four-cylinder with 80 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque or the 900cc turbocharged two-cylinder with 90 hp and 107 lb-ft. Both engines have standard stop/start and are mated to a six-speed manual.
Fiat has put most effort into the Cross' exterior to make it look ready to get muddy. It has a redesigned front bumper with integrated fog lights and a titanium-painted air dam, meant to look like a front skid plate. The rear is also reworked with chrome tailpipes and another titanium-painted faux-skid plate. It promises the modifications aren't entirely aesthetic, but improve approach and departure angles while off road. While Fiat has not released any images of the interior, it promises a mix of fabric and fake leather seats, and copper-color trim on the dash.
Fiat didn't run an advertisement during this year's Super Bowl. We've no idea why, though, because based on this recently released 60-second spot, the Italian brand probably could have done quite well during the big game.
The spot, called Mirage, stars Sean "Diddy" Combs (who happens to be the ex of former Fiat spokesperson Jennifer Lopez) and a pair of very unfortunate pedestrians. Wandering through the desert, the two are confronted by what they think are mirages before stumbling into a giant party hosted by the Grammy Award-winning rapper. It's a humorous spot, highlighting a product that Fiat really needs to succeed, the new 500L.
The Super Bowl-worthy ad is part of a larger campaign that will hopefully help distinguish the four-door L model from its smaller, two-door counterpart. "Too many people discover the 500L through the 500. That's what we have to solve for here," Jason Stoicevich, head of Fiat's brand in North America, told Automotive News. "It's awareness. We know it, we understand it and we had to find a creative way to deal with it."
We've known for some time that the new, Fiat-based baby Jeep (which may or may not be called the Jeepster) is set to arrive at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. What we weren't sure of was whether its platform mate, the so-called Fiat 500X, would be doing so alongside or at a later date. Well, according to Reuters, we'll get to see the first all-wheel-drive 500 later this year in the City of Lights.
Yes, we can expect the 500X to arrive at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, according to an official with an Italian trade union. The unnamed source cited retooling at Fiat's Melfi factory, in southern Italy, which currently produces the Grande Punto. It's expected that the newest member of the growing 500 family will replace the Suzuki SX4-based Fiat Sedici, although when the X will go on sale remains an open question.
According to Reuters, both the Jeepster and 500X will be built alongside each other in Italy. Whether the 500X will cross the pond with it's slat-grilled cousin, though, remains to be seen (we're leaning towards yes).
Chrysler announced its 2013 financial results today and unveiled its new name and decidedly bank-like logo. Amid the announcement, Chrysler posted big gains in income, while Fiat didn't perform to analysts' expectations.
For 2013, Chrysler had revenue of $72.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2012. Net income reached $2.8 billion, a 65-percent increase. It was the company's third straight year of annual profits.
In terms of unit sales, Chrysler sold 2.4 million cars worldwide in 2013, up 9 percent. According to Automotive News, 1.8 million of those vehicles were sold in the US, a 14-percent increase. The sales growth boosted Chrysler's US market share to 11.4 percent, up 0.2 percent.
The question of what we'll call the new, combined empire of Fiat and Chrysler has been answered - the new entity will be known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Initialized down to FCA, the new company will be organized in the Netherlands, meaning its full name is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. For those interested in such things, shares will be traded in the new company on both the New York and Milan stock exchanges.
Sergio Marchionne, one of the masterminds behind combining the two manufacturers, had this to say in an official statement:
"Today is one of the most important days in my career at Fiat and Chrysler. Five years ago we began to cultivate a vision that went beyond industrial cooperation to include full cultural integration at all levels. We have worked tenaciously and single-mindedly to transform differences into strengths and break down barriers of nationalistic or cultural resistance. Today we can say that we have succeeded in creating solid foundations for a global automaker with a mix of experience and know-how on a level with the best of our competitors. An international governance structure and listings will complete this vision and improve the Group's access to global markets bringing obvious financial benefits."
It's official: The Detroit Three is now The Detroit Two and The Fiat Subsidiary, Chrysler. Both the Italian carmaker and The Pentastar announced the completion of cash payments and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on future payments necessary to make the Chrysler Group a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat. As previously detailed, Chrysler made a cash payment of $1.9 billion and Fiat North America made a cash payment of $1.75 billion to the Voluntary Employment Benefit Association (VEBA) run by the United Auto Workers union.
On top of that, Chrysler Group signed an MOU that agrees to payments of $700 million to the VEBA in four installments, the first of which was made concurrently with the other cash payments. And for you trivia mavens, the full name of the UAW is the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. So go impress your loved ones with that nugget after you check out the press release below.
This year the Detroit Auto Show didn't just celebrate the automobile, it celebrated how we find out about the automobile, too. Partnering The One Club, this year introduced the 2014 One Show Automobile Advertising of the Year Award to Cobo Hall, celebrating winners in five different categories of advertising: broadcast television, online, interactive, experiential, and print/outdoor. Winners in those categories were judged by 50 creative directors and journalists, while a Public Choice category was chosen from among nearly 20,000 online votes.
Honda walked off with three of the six awards, its Hands spot taking Broadcast honors, its Sound of Honda getting the Online category and Illusions winning Public Choice. Hyundai made the grade in Interactive with Driveway Decision Maker, Fiat captured Print/Outdoor with its "Letters" ad, and Toyota's Tundra Endeavor Campaign spot and BMW's A Window into the Near Future were co-winners for Experiential.
You can watch all of the press release and winning videos below or check out all of the finalists, announced last month, for a refresher.
Citing the ever-nebulous "two sources close to Fiat," Reuters is reporting that the Italian automaker and owner of the Chrysler brand is likely to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange. The move could reportedly happen as soon as 2015, marking the end, at least in the minds of investors, of Fiat's 115-year base in Turin, Italy.
The Italian government is not likely to react favorably to Fiat's potential move from Italy to the United States, despite initially positive reactions to Fiat's landmark final purchase of Chrysler, the third-largest automaker in the US. Fiat spent $3.65 billion to buy out the 41.46-percent stake in Chrysler that had been owned by the United Auto Workers' VEBA trust fund.
With little sign of a swift European recovery, Fiat has little choice but to focus on markets outside its traditional home, and a listing in New York could potentially be a boon for investors. According to International Strategy and Investment analyst George Galliers, speaking to Reuters, "People [would be] more likely to think of the entity in the same context as they do Ford and GM" if it were listed on the NYSE.
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