Fiat autos returning to US roads
The Fiat 500 will be available to US buyers later this year
North American readers over a certain age may recall a time when Fiats were available at local auto dealers. Even though some people joked about their reliability at the time (“What does FIAT stand for? Fix It Again, Tony!”), the chic, zippy little Italian cars definitely had their admirers. Unfortunately, after the 1970’s oil crisis subsided, small cars weren’t so popular anymore, and what market remained was heavily dominated by Japanese automakers. Thus it was that in 1984, Fiat decided to stop selling cars in North America. Flash-forward to fuel-conscious 2010, and Fiat is now the sixth-largest car company in the world, and owner of the US-based Chrysler Group. This week, it was announced that separate and distinct Fiat dealerships will be selling the company's compact 500 model in the United States.
Fiat will be approaching dealerships in about 125 markets, located in up to 41 states, where growth for the small car market has been identified. Dealers will receive application guidelines and proposal deadlines this month, which they must complete and send in if they wish to be considered as a Fiat dealer. Preference will be given to high-performing Chrysler Group dealerships, but any dealer that meets Fiat’s checklist is reportedly welcome to apply. The company will be looking at factors such as sales performance, proposed facilities, customer handling metrics, and financial resources.
Once Fiat makes its choices, separate facilities with separate sales and service staff will have to be established in each location.
The 500 should be available to US buyers late this year, with the 500 Cabrio following in 2011. Chrysler will be developing the electric version of the 500 for the North American market, starting in 2012. At this point, there is no word on whether other models will eventually be available, or if dealerships will also be set up in Canada or Australia - two other countries Fiat left in the 80s.
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
Fiat now has an entire new generation that was not subjected to the Fix It Again Tony quality of workmanship. Hopefully they get it right this time around.
don\'t forget and with fiat comes the alfa romeo.some of us will not settle for less.we\'ve been driving our old alfas and hopeing for her return
Unlike in the \'80s, Fiat is now united with a domestic carmaker, Chrysler, so quality should- uh, wait a minit...
Hey Mr Lanteigne, how ya doing? Seems like every comeback small auto comes back 2.5 times bigger, more complex, and more expensive than the original \'80s models! It was popular back then exactly because it WAS affordable, cute, and reasonably simple!! Witness the \"NEW\" mini, VW bug, and now the 500!! (and probably a few others I can\'t remember!) The exception might be what looks like the reincarnation of the Honda 600 sedan, called the EV-N. Looking the closest to the original size and shape but smoother and more sexy, it\'s first debut was at the 2009 Tokyo Motor show. See it at http://tinyurl.com/24s75py Right now it\'s just a concept though and as proposed would be a EV slated for the US market! Come on Honda! I\'m rooting for ya!
Will, the tink
I think it is neat that they are having Fiat cars on the roads in the USA; especially if they bring over the Fiat 500. :) IMO; small cars are the next big thing.
I drive a Smart Fortwo Pure. :)
Photos of my car. :)
I hope the cars FIAT brings here will be free, a gift, since FIAT got Chrysler for free!!! I would never spend one penny on a FIAT, they were junk with lack of service and I will never forgive the that a FIAT 124 Spyder burned to the ground the first day I drove it, even thought it was raining that day. FIAT first should pay back first all the damages they caused to owners with their worthless, junk, rusting, ugly cars and go home! The free gift cars (like the Fiat 500) should go to the amusement parks and fairs and mounted on the merry-go-around.
I bought a new \'67 Fiat 850 spider. It looked like a Lotus Elan (elegant) and got 46 mpg. It was a unique car in that it looked like an expensive sports car. I have never seen any car like it. I drove it 10 years but finally had to sell it because of the poor workmanship. I just got tired of the constant repairs and the tire replacement (10K per set) due to a bent frame (factory defect). The design concept was exceptional. The execution was bad.
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