Tuesday, May 19, 2015
A look at the Fiat 500X as it tours the Italian countryside near its home town in Melfi, Italy. Located in the Vulture area of the province of Potenza, the town of Melfi is in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. Take a few moments and see where the 500X was born and the architecture of the country that influences its design.
Map image public domain
Thursday, May 7, 2015
The Fiat 500X fuel economy ratings have just been published by the EPA today. The sporty 500X with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox and 1.4 L MultiAir Turbo is rated at 34 MPG highway, 25 MPG city for a combined total of 28 MPG! The 500X equipped with the 2.4 L MultiAir II engine and 9-speed automatic achieves 31 MPG highway, 21 MPG city for a combined total of 25 MPG. Note, these ratings are for the 2WD 500X. Ratings for the AWD Fiat 500X are still pending final EPA approval according to a Fiat spokesperson.
If we speculate, it can be assumed that the AWD 500X will only be off 1 or 2 MPG compared to the 2WD 500X due to the innovative AWD system used that includes a disconnecting rear axle that minimizes friction and inertia losses in the powertrain. We can justify this assumption by looking at the Jeep Renegade. When equipped with the same 2.4L / 9-speed powertrain combination as the 500X, the AWD Renegade achieves 29 MPG highway, 21 MPG city for a combined 24 MPG total compared to the 2WD version that gets 31 MPG highway, 22 MPG city and 25 MPG combined.
Additional information for our comparison is the Fiat 500X weighs 3,278 lbs, or just 34 lbs lighter than the Jeep Renegade when equipped with the same powertrain. The 500X is also slightly more aerodynamic than the Renegade with a Drag Coefficient (Cd) of 0.350 compared to 0.360.
Looking at the Fiat 500L equipped with the same 1.4 L engine and 6-speed manual used in the 500X, we see the 500L achieves nearly the identical fuel economy - 33 MPG highway, 25 MPG city and a combined total of 28 MPG. The Fiat 500L weighs 236 lbs more than the 500X when equipped with the same powertrain (3,203 lbs compared to 2,967 lbs for the 500X) and is slightly more aerodynamic (a Cd of 0.310 compared to 0.350 for the 500X).
The Jeep Renegade with the same 1.4 L MutiAir and 6-speed manual transmission used in both Fiat models recorded 24 MPG city, 31 MPG highway for a combined rating of 27 MPG.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Waiting for your Fiat 500X to arrive and need something to pass the time? Here are the 2016 Fiat 500X owners manual, and Quick Users Guide for your enjoyment! Everything you need to get up to speed on the Fiat 500X is here. Learn how to operate all the numerous features the 500X has while you wait for the cars to arrive at Fiat Studios later this month. The Fiat 500X owners manual is 610 pages, so you have your work cut out for you!
Just need some light reading? Well, here is the 204 page Fiat 500X Quick Users Guide. It contains what you need to know to quickly jump in and start enjoying your new 500X!
Check with the following dealers to reserve your 500X now.
Criswell FIAT of Gaithersburg, Maryland - 1-888-878-2488
FIAT of Austin, Texas - 1-877-908-3428
Palmen FIAT of Kenosha, Wisconsin - 1-888-379-0295
Benson FIAT, South Carolina - 1-888-380-1716
FIAT of Larchmont, New York - 1-888-405-2249
Friday, May 1, 2015
Overall Fiat brand sales for April 2015 were down 13 percent compared to the same month last year. So far this year Fiat sales have been running just under last year's record pace. Fiat had its best year ever in 2014, selling some 46,121 cars in the United States. With the new 2016 Fiat 500X crossover coming to dealer showrooms later this month, Fiat sales for 2015 could very well set another record.
The bright news is sales of the Fiat 500L have been creeping up and are running ahead of last year. The 2015 Fiat 500L features a number of enhancements that should help sales of this roomy, versatile car. Currently, these new models have been in short supply on dealer's lots as they cleared out the 2014 model year cars. We'll see how the updated 2015 500L performs as more cars show up at Fiat Studios in the coming months.
Dealers are now taking orders on the recently announced Fiat 500 1957 Edition Cabrio. This special edition Cabrio model will arrive shortly, just in time for the convertible season and has the makings of a hit. Pricing of the well equipped Fiat 500 1957 Edition Cabrio starts at $24,700.
Fiat Studios have also begun taking order for the new 500X crossover, which is a promising start. The new 500X will bring Italian style and design sophistication for a truly unique experience in the small crossover segment.
The year looks to end on a high note with Fiat 124 Spider waiting in the wings for a possible introduction at the LA Auto Show in November. All in all, 2015 should be an exciting year for Fiat fans.
April Fiat News
The last Auto Show of the season was held in New York, and the Fiat display highlighted the 500L and upcoming 500X models. Special edition 500L MPVS were on hand.
Alfa Romeo had a spectacular show stand at the New York Auto Show in April. Besides the modern classic Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe and Spider, the display featured several legendary Alfa Romeo models with a total value of upwards of $20 million dollars.
The biggest news in April was the press' introduction to the Fiat 500X crossover. Fiat gathered media personnel from all around North America to sample the 500X, and positive reviews are being posted. The high style 500X has a big personality and offers something different to those in the market for a small crossover. Its sophisticated European feel and Italian design separates the 500X from its competition and makes it stand out.
Fiat 500 Sales in the United States, January - April 2015
|Fiat 500||Current Month||Last Year||Vol Change||Current YTD Total||Last Year YTD Total||Vol Change|
Thursday, April 30, 2015
The Fiat 500X is built at one of the most modern automotive production facilities in the world. Located in Melfi Italy, Fiat has invested more than 1.2 billion dollars to guarantee that every Fiat 500X that leaves the factory is of the highest quality. Fiat has recently opened up the factory for a virtual tour via Google Maps. Visitors can explore how the stamping, body-in-white, painting and assembly shops work and see what goes into making the new Fiat 500X crossover.
The Melfi plant has consistently been a top production facility for Fiat, being the first factory in Italy to be awarded the WCM (World Class Manufacturing) Silver Level. World Class Manufacturing is a comprehensive program that aims at eliminating waste, perfecting the production system and improving quality. The key to these goals is fully engaging employees in eliminating waste and empowering them to take ownership of the process. Employees are encouraged to come up with ideas and solutions, many of which are implemented. For example, in the Toluca factory in Mexico there were approximately 25,000 suggestions made by employees of which 78 percent were implemented.
Located near San Nicola, 18 kilometers from Melfi, the plant covers 1.9 million square meters and has a workforce of nearly 8,000. Over the past twenty years the factory has produced many noteworthy Fiats including the 1995 Car of the Year Fiat Punto (1995), Grande Punto (2005) and Punto Evo (2009) and various Lancia models, the Ypsilon (1995), and new Ypsilon (2003). Currently, the Fiat 500X, Fiat Grande Punto and Jeep Renegade are being produced.
It takes five presses and two shearing machines; 860 robots in the body-in-white shop; fifty-four robots in the paint shop; 278 automatic screwing stations; and near four thousand workers to assemble the Fiat 500X.
The factory turns out 500 units of the 500X per day, running three shifts, 24 hours a day. Nearly 5,000 components are used to make the various versions of the 500X, which consists of four chassis types, twelve paint colors, five interiors, eight engines and 188 optional equipment packages.
Lean production and modular assembly techniques are employed in manufacturing the Fiat 500X. Lean production means there is little waste, and bureaucracy is cut to a minimum allowing greater flexibility in factory operation. Modularity reduces the number of components to be assembled and aids in simplification in the production process.
Here is a look at the various assembly steps in making a Fiat 500X with the help of FCA Press:
The stamping shop is the area where the production of a new Fiat 500X begins. Huge presses transform gigantic coils of metal into the first 35 parts which form the supporting structure of the car. The entire job is performed in surprising silence by six robots operating with surgical precision.
'Stamping' indicates a number of different complex industrial production processes which share the use of stamping dies.
Firstly, the metal parts are shaped by the pressure in presses. The resulting parts may have a variable section (this process is known as 'forging') or thin section (which is called 'stamping'). Panels are processed in this way.
The stamping shop at Melfi has a state-of-the-art metrology room where two robots examine every millimeter of each finished part and a light tunnel for reviewing shapes and highlighting the smallest details.
The body-in-white area follows the stamping shop and is where the various metal parts are joined together. The body-in-white shop at Melfi is the reign of 860 'smart' robots used to make the body. The car starts taking shape under the careful eye of many computers.
Many joining methods are used on the 500X: welding, bonding and screwing. All are carefully monitored to certify perfect compliance of the entire production.
A range of welding technologies are used. Like traditional spot welding, MIG/MAG gas metal arc welding, laser welding. For cosmetic and parts that are seen, capacitive discharge welding and innovative laser brazing guarantees extremely high surface seam quality and allows implementation of sophisticated styling solutions.
Cameras and sensors guide robots and reciprocal positioning is accurate to one tenth of a millimeter. At the end of the production process, four robots measure the most important points of the body to ensure impeccable products from all points of view.
FCA has revolutionized the entire static inspection and measuring process by implementing specific solutions for making perfect cars. In addition to improving product quality by using increasingly more accurate equipment, being fast and efficient is the key: it takes only sixty minutes to measure a body in the metrology room. Here, one randomly picked Fiat 500X body are checked in a painstaking quality control process to guarantee that the body is geometrically and dimensionally perfect. There is no room for error: the measurements must comply to standards with imperceptible tolerances.
Two instruments used in the metrology room are the master jig and the assembly master: they simulate assembly and coupling of all chassis and body parts.
In particular, the master jig is used to achieve the maximum level of precision. It is a modular aluminum skeleton which replicates the body-in-white tools on which the various panel parts of the body are placed. The electronic sensors of a measuring machine check that all parts mate accurately and that flushes, gaps and geometric dimensions comply with design requirements to the tenths of the millimeter.
After the master jig, the assembly master is used to test check that all the interior and exterior trim components conform to the design.
At this point, the body is immersed in large tanks to confer the corrosion protection which will characterize the car for all its life by means of electrochemical processes.
Very accurate inspection systems and robotized cells seal all panel joints to prevent the introduction of air and water into the passenger compartment of the future car.
Paint is then applied to the body in a perfectly clean environment in which imperfections are banned and the environment is protected in a ballet of color. Here, 54 robots carry out this very delicate job under the supervision of seven human operators. Nearly 3.5 kilograms of paint are used for each car and the entire job takes less than 90 seconds in total.
In the meanwhile in a separate area, plastic material is heated to high temperature and injected in massive molds for making the bumpers, dashboard and fuel tank of the car. The painted body reaches the assembly shop where it meets its engine (this step is known as 'marriage') and where the car is gradually completed by fitting the wheels, the brakes, the seats, the dashboard, the steering wheel, the lights, the electrical system and the onboard technologies. At last, the car is made.
This step of the process is assisted by no fewer than 15 robots, 24 handling systems, 278 automatic screwing stations and approximately 1000 workers exclusively dedicated to assembly on each shift.
Each component must be procured and delivered punctually in the specific containers to each assembly operator. These very complicated logistics are carried out methodically using the organization and support of a state-of-the-art computer network which connects the factory, suppliers and logistics in real time.
The new assembly shop is the heart of the plant. It has recently been upgraded to implement new technology but more important to foster a new working mentality and a new organization in general. The Melfi plant has collected and applied the techniques and best practices of all the other FCA plants.
Finally,each Fiat 500X is driven 5 kilometers on a test track where an expert driver gives final approval.
World Class Manufacturing
In 2009 the Melfi Plant won the World Class Manufacturing Silver Level, which rewards the implementation of production cycle organization methods according to the best international standards in all areas, including safety, environmental-friendliness, maintenance, logistics and quality control. Today, after the recent reorganization and investment of over one billion Euros, it has its eyes set on the maximum WCM recognition, the gold medal.
Quality is the sum of many factors: good design of auto models and workstations, cohesion, involvement of all suppliers and workers on all levels. For the first time, the team building actions implemented at the plant is providing excellent results by means of extensive workforce training and involvement in work cycle design.
All this is put in practice according to World Class Manufacturing principles. For example, each assembly station is provided with eight unavoidable fail-safe systems: the line stops if a component is not fitted correctly. Automation goes hand in hand with responsibility: each operation carried out at the plant is recorded on computerized systems and the entire production process can be traced at any time, even after years, by means of constant monitoring.
This reduces the error margin and means that imperfect cars simply cannot leave the factory.
Product excellence and customer satisfaction are the primary objectives of everyone working at Melfi. To reach these goals over one million hours of training have been organized, new team leaders have been appointed and the most advanced technologies have been implemented to achieve the maximum levels of efficiency and quality.
More About the Fiat 500X
View More Images and Discuss on the Fiat 500X USA Forum
Manufacturing the North American Fiat 500
Inside the Fiat 500 factory...
Images and Press Release courtesy of FCA
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Crash test results for the European Fiat 500X were just released by Euro NCAP, the organization that assesses the safety of new cars in Europe. The Fiat 500X received four stars, just missing a five star rating. Recently, Euro NCAP has included crash avoidance technology in their assessment and that has significantly altered the meaning of the stars; this renders any comparison to previous year's ratings not comparable. Now to get a five-star crash rating a car has to be equipped with the most advanced collision avoidance equipment - normally reserved for high-end vehicles.
Interpreting the current star ratings:
5 stars safety: Overall good performance in crash protection. Well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology
4 stars safety: Overall good performance in crash protection; additional crash avoidance technology may be present
3 stars safety: Average to good occupant protection but lacking crash avoidance technology
2 stars safety: Nominal crash protection but lacking crash avoidance technology
1 star safety: Marginal crash protection
One can infer that a car currently receiving a four-star crash rating from Euro NCAP would be arguably equivalent to receiving a five star rating prior to 2014.
The European Fiat 500X received good marks on Adult and Child Occupant Safety but was let down on the Safety Assist assessment. As with other cars in the Small MPV Class, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is optional, however, because Fiat doesn't believe it will be fitted to most cars, its higher-speed functionality was not included in the assessment and the 500X received zero points for it.
Interestingly, the top rated VW Golf Sportsvan AEB system is also optional, but it was included in its assessment. If it weren't, the 500X would be the top rated car in its segment. You can read about the testing protocols here on the Euro NCAP website.
Below are the crash test results for the European Fiat 500X. Keep in mind, the Euro NCAP uses different testing procedures than the test performed in the United States. We'll have the US Fiat 500X crash test results as soon as they are available.
ADULT OCCUPANT Total 33.0 Pts / 86%
Comments on Adult Occupant
The passenger compartment of the 500X remained stable in the frontal offset test. Dummy readings indicated good protection of the knees and femurs of the driver and passenger. Fiat showed that a similar level of protection would be provided to occupants of different sizes and to those sat in different positions.
In the full-width rigid barrier test, protection of the driver dummy was good for all critical body areas and, for the rear passenger dummy, it was good apart from the chest, protection of which was adequate. In the side barrier impact, the 500X scored maximum points with good protection of all body regions. In the more severe side pole impact, protection of the chest was
adequate and that of other body areas was good.
Tests done on the front seats indicated a good level of protection against whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. A geometric assessment of the rear seats indicated marginal whiplash protection. An autonomous emergency braking system is available as an option. As it is not standard equipment, its performance at the low speeds typical of city driving was not assessed.
CHILD OCCUPANT Total 42.0 Pts / 85%
Comments on Child Occupant
The 500X scored maximum points for its protection of the 1½ year dummy in the dynamic tests and lost only a fraction of a point for the 3 year dummy, for chest acceleration slightly over the good performance limit. Both dummies were sat in rearward-facing restraints. In the side impact, both were properly contained within the protective shells of their restraints, minimising the likelihood of head contact with parts of the car interior. The front passenger airbag can be disabled to allow a rearward-facing child restraint to be used in that seating position.
Clear information is provided to the driver regarding the status of the airbag and the system was rewarded. All of the child restraint types for which the car is designed could be properly installed and accommodated in the vehicle.
PEDESTRIAN PROTECTION Total 26.8 Pts / 74%
Comments on Pedestrian
The bumper provided predominantly good protection to pedestrians' legs. Protection of the pelvis area was good and the car scored maximum points in these tests. The bonnet surface provided predominantly good or adequate protection to the head of a struck pedestrian, with poor results recorded along the edge of the windscreen and on the stiff windscreen pillars.
SAFETY ASSIST Total 8.3 Pts / 64%
Comments on Safety Assist
Electronic stability control is standard equipment, as is a seatbelt reminder for the front and rear seats. The optional autonomous emergency braking system operates from low speeds, typical of city driving, to the higher speeds normal for driving on the open road.
However, Fiat does not expect most cars to be equipped with the system so its higher-speed functionality was not included in the assessment. A driver-set speed limitation device is standard equipment and met Euro NCAP's requirements for systems of this type. A lane departure warning system is available as an option. As it is expected to be fitted to most cars sold, it was included in the assessment.
Source: Interpreting the star ratings