FIAT now owns the majority of Chrysler’s assets. The purchase by FIAT is aimed at saving the company from financial ruin. The Chrysler Group, plagued by huge debts, dealerships that weren’t selling enough cars, and mounting labor costs, went into bankruptcy in 2009. The company almost met the fate of liquidation before the federal government, and subsequently FIAT, stepped in to save the day. While the bankruptcy proceedings were in process, some of the auto maker’s factories were closed, and these cost the company a whopping $100 million a day. The Federal Government, specifically the Obama administration, helped the company by steering it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This protected it from further financial chaos and gave the company a chance to regroup. And regroup is exactly what it did.
As soon as the deal was made, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FIAT, was named head of Chrysler as well. Previous Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli has stepped down. Marchionne plans to share billions of dollars worth of technology with Chrysler and to give the company a new sense of direction. Marchionne takes pride in having helped FIAT emerge from its own difficulties to become a leading manufacturer of ecologically friendly and technologically cutting-edge vehicles.
“We have remade FIAT into a profitable company that produces some of the most popular, reliable and environmentally friendly cars in the world,” he wrote. “We created a far more efficient company while investing heavily in our technologies and platforms. And, importantly, we created a culture where everyone is expected to lead. We can and will accomplish the same results here.” Marchionne is quoted as saying.
Perhaps this was all for the best. As the manager at the FIAT store we stopped by, Holt FIAT of Ft Worth TX, said “Chrysler is long overdue for a change in priorities as are many other auto makers. The new trend toward fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, space saving vehicles is one that heralds and points up a new kind of awareness of the global interconnectedness as it impacts that auto industry”. In conclusion – often the rough spots come before changes that are welcome and beneficial. It looks like Chrysler and FIAT are headed in the right direction by working together to becoming a successful auto brand.
At the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, Fiat showed a mysterious concept car called the “Fiat 500 BEV”. Journalists were told this was a working title for the car on display but the BEV suffix stood for Battery Electric Vehicle. There wasn’t much data released at the show so it appears that Fiat simply wanted to make the statement that “they too” were investing in the electric car concept and presumably details would be forthcoming.
Officially named the Fiat 500E, Fiat’s electric car was originally said to be available “in late 2012” but automotive pundits are stating that 2013 is more likely. We asked a sales advisor at our favorite Fiat dealer, Holt FIAT of Fort Worth, and he suggested this was a reasonable assumption.
One thing we do know for sure is that the Fiat 500E will be shown to the general public for the first time at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show (starting Nov. 30, 2012) and quite a few more salient details will be released at that time.
As far as technology details are concerned, we are told that Chrysler is largely the force behind the 500E’s electric running gear. This makes perfect sense as it would seem rather than install an all-electric drivetrain into a small Chrysler car, say a Dodge Dart, the Fiat 500 chassis would seem more natural. First the Fiat 500 presents a small, much lighter form factor and frankly, having an electric Fiat would be good for Fiat public relations. As far as specifications are concerned, Chrysler is saying the juice will be provided by a lithium-ion battery pack and the electric motor would be in the 100hp range.
Pricing has yet to be determined but competitive forces would likely put the 500E in the $30K range as this would be less than the other electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf (retail $36,050), Ford Focus Electric (retail $39,900), and the Chevy Volt (retail $39,145). As previously stated, we should all know quite a bit more about the 500E as soon as the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show opens. In the meantime if you live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, stop by and view the new FIATS a Holt FIAT of Ft Worth.
At the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, FIAT showed a mysterious concept car called the “FIAT 500 BEV”. Journalists were told this was a working title for the little car on display and the BEV suffix stood for Battery Electric Vehicle. There wasn’t much data released at the show so it appears that FIAT simply wanted to make the statement that “they too” were investing in the electric car concept. Journalists noted that electric drivetrain part was fantastic but the car’s utilitarian look needed a little help.
Well, fast forward two years and things have changed a little. Now officially named the Fiat 500E, Fiat has jazzed things up a little and the first FIAT 500Es will be shown to the public at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show starting Nov. 30, 2012. Pictured below in striking orange decor, the first 500Es will be available first in California. We visited our Arrigo Palm Beach FIAT dealer and they suggested that later in 2013 that they may be released to other FIAT dealers.
As far as technology details are concerned, we are told that Chrysler technology is behind the 500E’s electric running gear. This makes perfect sense as it would seem a natural to install an all-electric drivetrain into the FIAT 500 rather than a larger car, say a Dodge Dart. Not only does the FIAT 500 present a smaller, much lighter form factor, having an electric FIAT would frankly be good for FIAT US public relations.
Pricing has yet to be determined on the 500E but competitive forces would likely put in the $30K range as this would be less than the other electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf (retail $36,050), Ford Focus Electric (retail $39,900), and the Chevy Volt (retail $39,145). As previously stated, we should all know quite a bit more about the 500E as soon as the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show opens.
The 2012 Fiat 500C Cabrio utilizes a retractible textile roof; a design that has solid European roots. The Cabrio roof first appeared in the 1920s on many German automobiles and was often called a “Webasto” after the German company that was the main supplier for the assembly. Cabrios are really fun cars because the fabric roof can usually be fully retracted revealing what is essentially one giant sunroof -the entire top of the car, in fact.
Continuing the fun-loving Cabrio tradition is the 2012 Fiat 500C Cabrio. This car is visually very similar to the other Fiat 500 coupes but offers the Cabrio two-layer cloth roof assembly that that pulls back from the windshield and folds up like an accordion on the rear deck. Inside the Cabrios is just as nice too. Often the designers of Cabrio models opt for more basic interiors. Fortunately, the designers at Fiat made the decision to leave the interior untouched in the Cabrio vs the fixed roof models. This means when the Cabrio roof is fully closed, the car interior has the “fully-appointed” look and feel of a comfortable little fixed roof coupe.
In the power department, the Cabrio models sport the same 101-hp MultiAir four cylinder engine as the rest of the 500 line and can be optioned with either a five speed manual or six speed transmissions. The 500Cs EPA fuel economy is rated 30 mpg city/38 highway for the manual gearbox and 27/32 for the automatic.
The 500C is more expensive than the standard 500 Sport Hatch models, in fact, the actual price for this “full internal sunshine”, is some $4000 over the 500 hatch models; a bargain some would say considering how much more panache a full Cabrio has. The base 500Cabrio is the Pop model and it includes 15-inch steel wheels, the five-speed manual, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sporty cloth seats, power windows and Bluetooth. Options include $500 15-inch sport wheel wheels (in place of the standard steel wheels), a $1250 upgraded Bose sound system with satellite radio. For an additional $1000 one can select the six speed auto matic transmission.
The next step up in the the Cabrio lineup skips right over the Hatch’s Sport model and moves to the Lounge. For $24K, the striking Cabrio Lounge adds an automatic gearbox, Bose sound system, handsome 15-inch styled wheels, fog lights, internal climate control and “premium” cloth seats. In addition to the 14 exterior colors and 12 interior combos offered, the 500C can be equipped with either a black, red, or brown top. If you max out a lounge, you can rack up some $27K.
Yes, the additional money for what is effectively a large cloth sunroof is substantial but the 500C is super-cute and super-chic. If you want to discover a really neat little car, give it a look. For anyone in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, the dealership you want to visit is Holt FIAT of Texas. The folks at Holt will be glad to let you test drive a Cabrio and discover the fun for yourself!