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