Presenting: The 2011 Chrysler Fiat Cars - Part III

Here is the main problem with my old buddy Sergio's new company: For all intents and purposes, Fiats still suck. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Fiat Panda, and would be the very first person to purchase the subject of my now famous Hub: Revealed! 2011 Jeep Phoenix Based On Fiat Panda 4x4!

Just do a google search on jeep panda phoenix and you'll find 529,000 references. Each and every one originally generated by the creation of yours truly and yours truly alone.

(Sergio, caro amico mio, remember that I created the Jeep Phoenix in my Photoshop, so when you decide to market it, try to send a few Euros my way, willya?)

At this point it is extremely important to note that my enthusiasm for Fiats is due to the fact that I'm a Paisano, thus was raised on 'em. I can most assuredly assure you with assured assurance that the average North American is going to step out of his Dodge Ram 3500 dually diesel and into a Fiat Panda and start looking for the Fisher Price logo. Fiats are way too tiny for North American to look at them as anything other than a novelty toy like the Smart Car. However, we can't compare Smart Cars with Fiats in anything other than size, as the engineering and quality control in a Smart Car compares to a Fiat in much the same way that a Bentley Continental GT compares with a homebuilt downhill derby race cart.

Perhaps fortuitously for Fiat, there is no doubt that gasoline will soon exceed its previous highs of $4 a gallon in the USA. Here in the wonderous bounteous dripping with petroleum Canadian wilderness, I have fuel in the tank of my car right now that I paid US$3.97 per US gallon (CDN$1.149 per litre). So the three cents I'm short of four bucks a gallon doesn't have me dancing at the gas pumps.

At those prices more and more people are going to get back into gas pump sticker shock mode and be screaming for more fuel economy from their vehicles. However, as a man who has spent a fair amount of his life driving a Fiat, I can assure you that they are not going to turn in any significant number to purchasing products from the new Fiat-Chrysler conglomerate.

First of all, the very first Fiat to be badged as a Chrysler is at least 18 months away due to the homologation certifications that are required for import cars. Exactly what Chrysler is going to be selling in the handful of dealerships it has left until the first quarter of 2011 is really anyone's guess. Maybe fast food? Fiatfurters and Kentucky Fried Chrysler?

Then when the Fiat-Chryslers are finally available, they will (and mark my words) be nearly universally derided. North Americans just don't have the mindset for the type of automobiles that Fiat builds, and they will be seen as crummy, cheap crap cars. That is anything but the truth, as modern Fiats are actually much better cars (to my Italian mindset) than they will initially appear, but North American automotive consumers have a long history of not buying what's good for them, and automatically defaulting to the most luxobling cruisers for their buck. The history of North American automobile manufacturing is littered with examples of economy cars that were supposed to be successes but turned out to be failures.

In my series of Hubs: 35 Euro Cars That Can Save America, the Fiat Panda is proudly # 4, and in the Hub I stated that the Panda is:

...a true five door vehicle that is spacious, comfortable, handles wonderfully for a tiny economy car, and can certainly hold its own on the fastest freeway... if Fiat ever brought this car to these shores, I'd camp out at my local dealer to be the first one to buy one. It's not just because I'm Italian... I'm a Panda Fanatic!

However, the only other Fiat on the top 35 is the Grande Punto which is way down on the list at # 26. For a major automotive manufacturer such as Fiat to have only about 5% of the presence on the best 35 Euro Cars is a major disappointment but reflects the overall product line.

Continued in Presenting: The 2011 Chrysler Fiat Cars - Part IV

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Comments 14 comments

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

We always had fiats when I was a girl (long ago) as my uncle had a dealership, ending with my mother having a blue tiny car that she could park in our single car garage along side my Dad's big Vauxhall. She drove it til the wheels fell off (almost literally). I hope it is a success for al involved.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I've had plenty of Fiats of my own, starting with an early 70s green 850 Spider that was a blast to play with but only on perfect warm summer days, (try getting around in Toronto in January with that sucker...); all the way up to an 08 Panda which I have to state is hands down my favorite and is the reason why I want to be the very first guy in line at my local Chrysler dealer when the North American Panda comes available!


Shannon Paulk 6 years ago

I have not seen the Panda yet in the US. When will it be available?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Sergio hasn't made any formal announcements. Apparently so far the only models that are confirmed are the 500 and Thema variants.


John 6 years ago

Fiats have always had the reputation of falling apart, same with Renault. Why have they never improved the reliability of these cars? Just as the AMC/Renault alliance failed because of poor reliability, I see the same thing happening with the Chrysler/Fiat combine. What will be left is Jeep and Dodge Ram Trucks.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Again, Fiats are perfectly reasonable quality cars today. Much different vehicles than a quarter century ago.


dudley dowrong 6 years ago

Chrysler needs to get back on there feet fast and break away from Fiat. Lets be honest Chrysler needed Fiat just for the money not the technology. And with a name like Fiat working with Chrysler is nothing to brag about.


Dudley DoWrong 6 years ago

On a positive note though...at least Chrysler did not partner with Toyota or they would probably be out of business now or quality would be further down.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Chrysler won't break away from Fiat, it will just go bust and be closed.


Richard Willetts 6 years ago

Okay sorry but you guys need to realise Fiat make far superior cars to Chrysler these days, Chryslers ARE uninspiring to be in, and seriously fisher price!

Chrysler need Fiat for some design flair, Chrysler had nothing going for it, there was a reason it needed help!

People need to take a serious look at the new Chryslers when they appear, because mark my words, it can only be an improvement.


robert t. steele 6 years ago

As a son of a years ago DeSoto Plymouth dealer I am sad at the situation at Chrysler. Poor design and quality as well as materials and workmanship. Guys if you don't come up with a 1955 version of todays auto your gone. Most won't remember the 1955 models but they were WOW the best new design in the industry and started the era of the tail fin. Remember when the guy in front of you at night hit his brake lights you couldn't see for a week. This design changed the way auto were designed for the next five years. No more chair high seats but more innovative attractive design. Get with it design department, you don't have much if any time left.


adalino-italiano 5 years ago

italian brands need big cars structure

chrysler brands need italian design and small cars structures and engines to make front against japan / korean/chinese/european cars

this is beacause chrysler + fiat could be perfect


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peter 5 years ago

I disagree completely that America and Canada consumers so conservative and will not buy the small, inexpensive and overall economical cars! I had a chance last year to drive FIAT Panda myself. Despite my initial strong skepticism I was literally surprised a lot how good this car was on the road - it is easy to drive, has perfect fuel economy (I got 5.15 l/100km overall mixed) and comfortable enough.

Car market changing drastically. Considering that and America and Canada has a lot of immigrants novodays, people would buy that car here. We just were told for many years what we won't do and no one gave us chances to vote by our money. I think that if Chrysler brings this small car to their dealerships and people had chance to drive it their opinion would change right away.

It is easy to scary people and tell them "You won't like it.." when they have no idea what we are talking about.

Any way - people need inexpensive cars. I emphasize one more time - INEXPENSIVE, without unnecessary for many additional bells and whistles. The Renault Logan success in Europe shows the correctness of this trend.

What for should majority of people pay twice more if what they need is the inexpensive transportation to go to work and go for grocery shopping!

Bring Fiat Panda to North America!

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