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Fiat Freemont: to sell 40,000 and change the Fiat image

published by Alison

Fiat 500 Coupè Zagato e Freemont - Salone di Ginevra Live 2011

Fiat plans that it’s new Dodge Journey-based Fiat Freemont will sell 40,000 models annually in Europe. The target is to sell 20,000 models in Italy alone and the same across the other European markets. The Freemont will have a starting price of about €25,000.

The figures are ambitious but not necessarily impossible to reach. The Fiat Croma, which had a brief and not particularly illustrious career, managed to sell 65,000 models in a year. What’s more, the Freemont will be sold in a different commercial context. It will be the Italian company’s first large MPV, based on a solid vehicle that while American, won’t be unpleasing to the European public.

Fiat sales and marketing boss Andrea Formica confirmed the targets and has also previously stated in an interview: “We’re not trying to hide its [the Freemont’s] American origins, nor do we want to highlight them as a marketing instrument.” The Freemont is not a particularly original model, but then many Fiats aren’t and the company has built its image as an economical, family friendly brand in its local market.

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Analysis: Fiat 500 to fail in the US says Ford's Mulally

published by Alison

Fiat 500 North America

The Fiat 500 will be a failure in the US, says Ford president Alan Mulally. Pointing out that the only A segment vehicle to have tried its luck in America was the Smart (which was unsuccessful), Mulally says: “I don’t see much market space for a car that’s smaller than the Fiesta. Anyone who’s tried has failed.”

In the next few months, the Fiat 500 will be joined in the US car market by the Scion iQ, whose future in this market is doubtful, too. The comments come from an interview with Italian magazine, Panorama, and indicate just how interested the Italians are in how their national brands will fare in their new adventure over the ocean. Mulally has also developed the same idea of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne: that in the future, the world will have just six large automobile groups.

He says: “At the end of the financial crisis, no more than six automobile companies around the world will exist. And I believe that the problem is not how many cars will be produced, but how we will earn on the cars that are sold.” It’s not all bleak news, though, as Mulally predicts a 10 percent increase in the market this year, and that finally hybrid models will start to make their presence felt come 2020: “in 2020 between 10 and 25 percent of cars sold will have some kind of electric features, and we think most of them will be hybrid models.”

Could he be underestimating the Fiat 500 though? After all, the Smart had some mechanical issues that didn’t go down well with the US public, and it was lacking the cutesy style that the 500 is counting on. So far the US reaction to the Fiat 500 has been positive, but with the first edition models arriving these days, the future of the DolceVita vision in a big car world remains in the balance.

Source | Autoblog.it

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Alfa Romeo to Mexico production in June

published by Alison

Fiat 500 North America

As the Fiat 500 embarks on US shores, news is that Alfa Romeo production in Mexico will start in June. It could be important information - announcing that the Alfa Romeo brand will be ready to return to the US car market in 2012. The news comes as Sergio Marchionne made a visit to the Chrysler Toluca plant. The factory has a production capacity of 120,000 vehicles: 50,000 of which are destined for the North American and Canadian markets. The number of workers employed there is about 2,714.

The US Fiat 500 is being produced in Toluca, as is the Dodge Journey. The Journey-based Fiat Freemont coming to Europe will also be produced there and it seems that room could be made for Alfa Romeo models coming to the US. Whatever happens, the additional production space will be needed if Fiat is to get anywhere near its ambitious targets for 2011. Marchionne intends to produce two million vehicles this year which is an increase of 32 percent.

Source | Autoblog.it

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RIP Lancia? New Lancia Delta facelift at Geneva

published by Alison

Lancia_Delta_facelift

The Lancia Delta restyling will appear at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and the title for this post refers to some of the comments from Italians regarding this latest Lancia offering. I feel that the Lancia Delta facelift borders on gaudy, but there are reasons behind the new design, most of which lie in the Fiat-Chrysler amalgamation of products.

The new Delta appears three years after the initial market launch of the model and indicates a further step in Lancia-badged Chrysler models and vice versa. The major change in the Delta style is the new front grille with horizontal strips designed to host the Chrysler logo in future. The main engine option will be the 1.6-litre Multijet unit with 105 hp and 300 Nm of torque. It reaches 100 km/hr in 10.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 186 km/hr. CO2 emissions measure 120 g/km.

Other engine options available on the new Delta are: 1.4 Turbo fuel and twin-fuel models (the latter with petrol/LPG set-up) with 120 hp, the 1.4 Turbo Multiair with 140 hp, 1.8 DI Turbo with 200 hp, another Multijet with 120 hp and a 1.9 TwinTurbo option with 190 hp. Going back to the comments from the local market, the clever engine range on offer doesn’t seem to be doing much for Italians who are currently lamenting the Americanisation of the model, in addition to an obsoleteness that had already entered the Lancia family long ago.

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Fiat Freemont interior revealed

published by Alison

Fiat Freemont interior pics

The Fiat Freemont - the Fiat-badged Dodge Journey for the European market - will be presented at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and these preview pics show the Freemont interior. The new model is exactly what they say it is - a rebadged Journey, and so there are plenty of points in common. It marks the first Fiat-badged Chrysler model to market since the Fiat-Chrysler deal and could prove to be a hefty competitor in the large MPV segment.

Also described as an SUV/crossover, the Fiat Freemont is an over-sized model and biggest passenger vehicle for the brand. It measures 4.89 metres long, 1.88 wide and 1.72 high, with a wheel base of 2.89 metres and a boot capacity of 1,461 litres. At launch time it will be available in just versions: a 2.0-litre Multijet with 140 or 170 hp and manual transmission. Following this first model, all-wheel drive will be introduced, as will the V6 Pentastar engine with 276 hp. We expect to see a few Italian families heading to the seaside in the Freemont this coming summer, when it will be available in Europe.

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Analysis: Fiat 500 too puny for US?

published by Alison

Fiat 500 North America

Is the Fiat 500 too small for the US market? It could turn out to be a million dollar question for the Fiat-Chrysler effort to bring Europe’s current favourite little car to the US. It’s embarking on a big mission as it brings the Fiat brand back to the US car market, and does so off the back of some quirky Italian style. The original 500 was not so famous anywhere outside of Italy, really, but the revival of the 1950’s vehicle has made up for that around the world.

We’ve already seen what the Americans think of the Fiat 500, with the question being whether it’s hot styling will win over in a country where big has always been prized above all else. In pointing out that America has been readied for smaller cars through Smart and Mini (which has also made money), on its first drive of the 500, Autoblog says:

Our first five minutes behind the wheel of the 2012 Fiat 500 shouted that it was solid, substantial and sporty. The rest of the day simply demonstrated the amplitude of these characteristics, and whether the exceptionally-popular-in-Europe 500 might actually catch on with American drivers.

We think it will.

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What are the Americans saying about the Fiat 500?

published by Alison

Fiat 500 North America

Fiat back in the US

With the Fiat 500 in the US, big hopes are pinned to a small car as Fiat tries to re-launch its brand on the US car market off the back of the Fiat-Chrysler deal. The plan is that the cute, retro appeal of the Fiat 500 will win hearts and minds, and will beat main rival Mini at the pricing game. As the model slowly appears in showrooms, what is the initial American reaction to this Dolce Vita icon?

Fiat 500: the technical stuff

The Fiat 500 has been described as adorable, feel-good and even plucky, and it’s no surprise that it’s style is what will make it a winner. But for the more discerning consumer, the cinquecento might just fall short on a couple of fronts. For starts, Autoblog is stating its fuel consumption figures as disappointing, with the 30-38 mpg achieved dropping to just 27-34 if you pick the six-speed self shifter option (these figures refer to the 1.4 Multiair engine).

That’s fine if all you’re interested in is looking good, but let’s say you wanted a slightly bigger car as well. The guys at Autoblog claim that on the American market you can get a Hyandai Elantra, Ford Focus or Chevrolet Cruze with better fuel efficiency. In addition, if some comments comparing the Fiat 500’s potential fate to that of the Smart ForTwo, there’s not much room for positive thinking. Perhaps the small car is still just a bit too small for the US…? I’ve sat in the back of one and let us say it’s sufficient, but not exactly comfortable. And that’s said through European eyes. More after the jump.

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Fiat Freemont pics and details

published by Alison

Fiat Freemont

We’ll have to get used to seeing the Dodge Journey sporting a Fiat badge in Europe, but the hefty Fiat Freemont as it will be called, doesn’t look bad at all. The model will debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March, and will hit the market in the second half of this year. Assembly operations have been assigned to the Mexican plant, Toluca, so it will mark an import model for Fiat in Europe - designed in the US and built in central America.

The Fiat-Chrysler effort should help to expand the Fiat model line-up significantly. Generally speaking it’s a modest range, focusing on smaller cars, but if they can make this affordable enough, the Fiat Freemont will mark the entry of a large SUV/crossover model, which could prove popular with Italians, if not with other European nations. The Freemont measures 4.89 metres, 1.88 m wide and 1.72 tall, with a wheelbase of 2.89 metres. It offers seven seats, in three rows, where the last row can make way for more boot space. The second row features a “child Booster” seat for children. The rear boot capacity can reach a maximum of 1,461 litres.

There’s not much to be noted in terms of new design features. Obviously the Fiat badge at the front takes the place of that of Dodge, and the front bumpers have been modified to match a more Fiat-like nose. The rear gets LED lights, now standard in most modern vehicles. No pictures of the interior of the Freemont are available yet, but we understand there will be new materials used, chrome finishes, new instrumentation and a multimedia system mounted in the central console.

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Chrysler 200 coming to Europe as Lancia... Flavia?

published by Alison

Chrysler 200

According to reports the Chrysler 200 could come to Europe as the Lancia Flavia. We had originally reported on the possibility of the Chrysler 200 in Europe as a fleet car, and now it looks like it could be rebadged as a Lancia model, bearing the name Flavia in statements from Sergio Marchionne, Fiat-Chrysler CEO.

Apparently Marchionne has said: “The Chrysler 200, cabrio included, will come to Europe under the Lancia brand and Flavia is a good proposal for a name.” According to the guys at Autoblog.it, the name is a joke at this stage (and we’re hoping they’re right). The Chrysler 300C will go on show at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show under the Lancia badge, and we could see the Chrysler 200 do the same.

Apparently the 300C could take on the historic name Thema under the Lancia brand, and a new Phedra is likely to appear as the European take on the Grand Voyager. The 200 sedan should only become a transition model as a new generation based on a Fiat platform should be available in 2013.

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Dodge Journey to go Fiat Freemont in Europe

published by Alison

Dodge Journey Model Year 2011

The new Dodge Journey crossover is apparently headed to Europe under the Fiat badge and with a new name. The Fiat Freemont (too many F’s!), as it will then be known, will be the first Chrysler model with a Fiat engine - a diesel to replace the current Volkswagen diesel unit. The engine gets a power boost in the process, up 30 hp to 170, compared to the current powertrain.

The new Dodge Journey model was recently displayed at the November Los Angeles auto show and shows some exterior restyling, modified suspension and a revamped interior. Much of this probably didn’t take place with Europe in mind, but the Journey should form a significant part of the Fiat-Chrysler plans to rebadge models, providing more varied ranges but cutting development costs and investments in the process.

While the Dodge Journey doesn’t exactly have a mega sales record to boast of, it’s certainly a lot better than the mere 1,956 sales of the Fiat Ulysse minivan it will replace. Fiat plans that the Freemont model will have better chances than the original Journey in Europe due to an all-wheel drive option and access to the broad Fiat dealership network. According to the reports, the Fiat Freemont will be presented at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

Dodge Journey Model Year 2011 Dodge Journey Model Year 2011 Dodge Journey Model Year 2011 Dodge Journey Model Year 2011

Source | AutoWeek via Autoblog.com

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