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Chrysler and Fiat - Italian-American Flavor?
The rumor-mill is running amok of a possible French/Japanese/American (i.e. Renault/Nissan/Chrysler) menage-a-trois or even a Chinese-American (i.e. Chery Motors/Chrysler) partnership.
Bah, I say it's all a soap-opera re-run. Therefore, I say it's time for some Italian passion and a tie-up with the Fiat Group shouldn't be ignored. And please, don't bring up the old "Fix It Again Tony" jokes about the reputation of Fiat cars of yore.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time a Chrysler-Fiat partnership has been considered. Back in 1988, Lee Iaccoca and then Fiat Chairman Giovanni Agnelli, were longtime friends (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3165/is_n11_v24/ai_6829756).
So, why look at this relationship again? Here are my observations:
- Style/Design -
Personally, I find Chrysler vehicle styling and design to be between average and boring. Not a good position to be in when even the likes of Honda of America are finally spicing things up (e.g. new Civic and forthcoming new Accord).
If you take a look at the new Fiat Bravo and the recently introduced new Grand Punto, styled by Giugiaro, these are cars that have a 21st century look, enhancing "drivability" which should appeal to all demographics and most importantly, women who are image conscious and have a disposable income.
Oh, and let's not forget that Alfa Romeo is part of the Fiat Auto Group. Therefore, Chrysler-Fiat could offer vehicles to BMW/Audi/Mercedes-Benz buyers too.
Go to http://www.fiat.com to see Bravo and Grand Punto.
- Technology -
Fiat's core competency is making small, stylish and economical cars. Something that America is, finally, beginning to accept again. And more than likely will continue for the foreseeable future.
The Fiat engine line-up includes everything from economical to high-performance. Indeed, Fiat's MultiJet (sulfur-free) diesel engines are on par with the Germans and most are very fuel-efficient.
- Safety and Reliability -
The equivalent of NHTSA testing is Euro NCAP and Fiat's latest range of cars get the highest ratings possible.
As to reliability, well, it's certainly better than the "Fix It Again Tony" days, and the most recent cars have had good reliability ratings thus far. Still, this is where Chrysler, with it's ten year association with co-German engineering experience, can benefit the relationship.
- Positioning -
I think certain domestic models (e.g. SUVs, trucks, vans) should be emphasized with the Dodge and Jeep brands and Chrysler take on compact and sub-compact Fiat based cars like the Grand Punto and the Bravo.
And yes, bring back Alfa Romeo with readily available Chrysler/Dodge dealerships.
So, a Chrysler "Soprano" anyone?
Comments welcome of course.