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Friday, December 25, 2009


Thank you for visiting Fiat500USA and making this site the most visited American based 500 site on the internet. This coming year is a big one for Fiat and the 500 and I look forward to bringing everyone new and interesting information as Fiat makes its way back to America. Stay tuned...

Best wishes to all, Chris

gif courtesy of

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fiat Technology: The Ferrari 458 Italia

Ferrari 458 Italia

Many people think of Fiat as just an economy car maker. The truth is Fiat is a multi-faceted company with core businesses that focus on the automotive industry. The Fiat Group is made up of nine companies. One of them is the the legendary Ferrari company.

Ferrari has been owned by Fiat for the past 40 years. During this time there has been a wide range of cars produced by the Maranello based firm. Each one has been unique, beautiful and a technical masterpiece. However, with the new 458 Italia, Ferrari has pushed the limits of technology and passion. This automotive tour de force in design and engineering has been given the name Italia to honor the classic Italian tradition of advanced design and engineering.

These achievements, which have spanned centuries, make up the Italian DNA and are what fuel Ferrari and Fiat to produce their award winning designs.

People may pose the question of what Ferrari cars have to do with Fiat cars, but anyone who knows the history of the Fiat company knows the links the two companies have. For example, Aurelio Lampredi, the famed Ferrari engine designer of the 1950's (who designed many Ferrari racing engines), went on to Fiat and designed a slew of Fiat engines. These engines include the original Fiat 500's 2 cylinder engine as well as the legendary Fiat Twin Cam engine (the first affordable Twin Cam engine and the prototype for all belt driven twin cam engines used today).
The World Champion Fiat 131 Abarth. Lampredi engined cars have enabled Fiat to win a record 13 World Rally Championships. For the record that's: 1974,75,76,77,78,1980,83,87,88,89,1990,91,92.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, President of Ferrari and Chairman of Fiat

Although Ferrari is said to be run autonomously in the Fiat empire (the President of Ferrari, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is also the Chairman of Fiat), technology is shared between the companies.
Paddle shifter used in the Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari"

For example, the Dualogic/MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) gearbox technology is derived directly from the Ferrari 355 F1 system.
Fiat 500 Abarth engine

Also, engineer Paolo Martinelli, head of Scuderia Ferrari's Engine Department from 1994 to 2006 (who was responsible for developing the Ferrari V10 Formula One engines that won 6 constructor championships) and currently head of the Petrol Engine Development division at Fiat Powertrain Technology , oversaw the making of the 1.4L 16V Turbo engine used in the new Fiat 500 Abarth.
Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari"

And, of course, The Abarth 695 "Tributo Ferrari", a collaboration between Abarth and Ferrari, resulting in an increase in horsepower from the standard Abarth's 135hp to the Tributo's 180hp.

With this, we can see the link between Fiat and Ferrari will be a good thing for American car enthusiasts.

Below is an overview and videos of the Ferrari 458 Italia for you to enjoy. Clearly Italian DNA has served Ferrari very well!

ITALIA - Ferrari’s innovative new V8

The 458 Italia, the latest incarnation of the mid-rear engined berlinetta
was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show during September, 2009. While it’s true that every Ferrari is innovative by definition, it’s equally true that in the course of the Prancing Horse’s history, certain cars have marked a genuine departure from the current range. This is very much the case with the Ferrari 458 Italia, which is a massive leap forward from the company’s previous mid engined sports cars.

The new model is a synthesis of style, creative flair, passion and cutting-edge technology, characteristics for which Italy as a nation is well-known. For this reason Ferrari chose to add the name of its homeland to the traditional figure representing the displacement and number of cylinders.

The Ferrari 458 Italia is a completely new car from every point of view: engine, design, aerodynamics, handling, instrumentation and ergonomics, just to name a few.

A two-seater berlinetta, the Ferrari 458 Italia, as is now traditional for all Ferrari’s road going cars, benefits hugely from the company’s Formula 1 experience. This is particularly evident in the speed and precision with which the car responds to driver inputs and in the attention focused on reducing internal friction in the engine for lower fuel consumption than the F430, despite the fact that both overall displacement and power have increased. However, Ferrari’s track experience makes its presence felt in the 458 Italia not only in terms of pure technological transfer but also on a more emotional level, because of the strong emphasis on creating an almost symbiotic relationship between driver and car. The 458 Italia features an innovative driving environment with a new kind of steering wheel and dashboard that is the direct result of racing practice. Once again input from Michael Schumacher - who was involved from the very start of the 458 Italia project - played an invaluable part.

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s Pininfarina design provides further evidence of the complete
departure from the past that this new car hails. The Ferrari 458 Italia has a compact, aerodynamic shape, underscoring the concepts of simplicity, efficiency and lightness that inspired the project. As with every Ferrari, the car’s styling has been very heavily influenced by the requirements for aerodynamic efficiency, as can be seen from the downforce of 140 kg at 200km/h generated by the new model. The front features a single opening for the front grille and side air intakes, with aerodynamic sections and profiles designed to direct air to the coolant radiators and the new flat underbody. The nose also sports small aeroelastic winglets which generate down force and, as speed rises, deform to reduce the section of the radiator inlets and cut drag.

The new 4499 cc V8 is the first Ferrari direct injection engine to be mid-rear mounted. It has a very low piston compression height typical of racing engines which contributed to achieving its compression ratio of 12.5:1. Equipped with the traditional flat-plane crankshaft, the engine delivers 570 CV at 9000 rpm and, with an outstanding power output of 127 CV/liter, sets a new benchmark not only for the whole Ferrari range and the history of company, but also for the entire market segment. Maximum torque is 540 Nm at 6000 rpm, over 80 per cent of which is available from 3250 rpm. Specific torque is a record 120 Nm/liter. However, what is truly extraordinary is the amount of torque available while still maintaining high levels of power at low revs.

The car’s soundtrack is also typical Ferrari, with an exciting, powerful growl emerging from the engine before it channels through to the exhaust’s three rear tailpipes.

The 458 Italia is equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which increases performance whilst providing very smooth shifts even at full throttle. The engineers have developed specific, sportier gear ratios to match the power and torque curves of the new V8, guaranteeing high torque even at lower engine speeds and allowing the car to reach its maximum speed in top gear.

This new Ferrari is also a major leap forward when it comes to cutting emissions. Despite the fact that the new engine is significantly more powerful than the V8s that preceded it, the Ferrari 458 Italia produces just 320 g/km of CO2 and fuel consumption is 13.7 l/100 km (combined cycle), the best in the entire segment.

The engineers also focused on weight reduction during the design phase for similar reasons. Consequently, the Ferrari 458 Italia has a dry weight of 1380 kg with a power to-weight ratio of 2.42 kg/CV. Weight distribution is also optimal with 58 per cent over the rear axle. The result of the engineers’ endeavors can be summed up in to two simple statistics which together perfectly encapsulate the Ferrari 458 Italia’s exceptional performance: 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 3.4 seconds and a maximum speed in excess of 325 km/h.

For the new chassis, once more in aluminum, Maranello’s engineers incorporated various types of advanced alloys along with aerospace industry-derived manufacturing and bonding techniques.

With regard to vehicle dynamics, the Ferrari 458 Italia’s suspension features twin wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear tuned for maximum road holding and superlative handling. Along with a more direct steering ratio, the 458 Italia thus offers extremely rapid turn-in and body control whilst maintaining superior ride comfort.

The integration of the E-Diff and F1-Trac (now controlled by the same ECU) and their respective mappings is even greater, resulting in a 32 per cent increase in longitudinal acceleration out of corners compared to previous models. The evolution of the control logic, with even faster and more accurate calculation of levels of grip, ensures even greater road holding, better handling and ease of control on the limit.

The same ECU also governs the high-performance ABS, providing even more precise control over the logic threshold and greater efficiency. The brakes also feature a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimize delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS has cut the 100-0 km/h braking distance to a mere 32.5 meters.

The Ferrari 458 Italia’s interior is another area of the car that exalts its sporty personality. The driver is welcomed by a new layout and a revolutionary ergonomic interface where the main controls are all clustered on the steering wheel.

With the Ferrari 458 Italia, Maranello has brought a highly distinctive new car to its 8-cylinder range. The company now offers two models that share a common, race derived DNA, both exceptionally sporty and fun to drive in true Ferrari tradition, but aimed at two very different kinds of client. While the Ferrari California was created for owners requiring a more versatile sports car with a practical edge, the 458 Italia is designed for owners for whom the priority is uncompromising on-road performance with occasional track day capability, but who still demand a car that is usable in day-to-day driving like all Ferrari’s recent models.

Ferrari Press Release
Photos used by creative commons license from char1iej's photostream

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fiat building its MultiAir engine in the USA

Fiat 500 1.4L MultiAir engine

Fiat has decided to produce the Fiat 500's MultiAir engine at the Chrysler Dundee, Michigan engine plant (GEMA). It beats out the Saltillo, Mexico engine plant that was also in the running to manufacture this engine. Saltillo is near the Toluca, Mexico plant that produces the 500.

GEMA, which stands for Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance LLC, was a manufacturing arm of Global Engine Alliance LLC. The alliance was a joint venture of Chrysler, Mitsubishi Motors, and Hyundai Motor Company for developing a line of shared engines. On August 31, 2009, Chrysler bought out the two partners and the engine facility is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chrysler Group LLC.

Fiat will invest $179 million at Dundee to produce the MultiAir engine, bringing an estimated 155 new employees to Chrysler. To help bring this investment about, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Board in November approved a $4.6 million, 10-year tax credit for Chrysler.

Another reason for choosing Dundee over the Saltillo plant was the stipulation in the original Chrysler/Fiat alliance that in order to increase its stake in Chrysler, Fiat would have to produce this engine here in the USA.

Below is an excerpt of the official Fiat/Chrysler agreement:

"...Fiat will have right to receive up to an additional 15% equity interest (by vote and value) on a fully diluted basis. This stake can be obtained in three tranches of 5% each subject to the achievement of predetermined targets, in particular, achievement of regulatory approvals to produce the FIRE family of engines in the USA; achievement of sales of Chrysler vehicles outside NAFTA, and achievement of regulatory approval to produce a Chrysler model based on Fiat technology. Upon obtainment of such additional 15% interest, Fiat will also have the right to appoint another director of Chrysler..."

The following is the official Chrysler press release on this investment:

Chrysler Group LLC to Invest $179 Million in Jobs for Michigan, Fuel Efficient Engines for North America

Company Is Delivering on the Promise of the Fiat-Chrysler Strategic Alliance, says Chrysler Group CEO Marchionne
A Significant Step to Grow and Diversify State’s Economy, says Michigan Governor Granholm

Auburn Hills, Mich., Dec 17, 2009 - Chrysler Group LLC will invest $179 million to launch production of an advanced technology, fuel-efficient engine for the North American market, which will be built at the company’s Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Michigan.
The investment will create up to 573 new jobs industry-wide, including up to 155 new Chrysler Group jobs.

The GEMA plant, located in Dundee, Michigan, will produce the 1.4-liter, 16-valve Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) for use in Chrysler Group’s growing fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles. FIRE is a collaboration between Chrysler Group and Fiat powertrain groups and will include Fiat’s innovative advanced technologies to reduce engine emissions and improve fuel economy.

“This is one more important step forward that demonstrates our intent to deliver on the promise of the Fiat-Chrysler strategic alliance and the substance of the road map we laid out in November,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Officer.

“This project further demonstrates that Michigan has the competitive business climate, infrastructure and talented workforce to compete in the global marketplace,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.

"We are pleased and excited with the I-4 FIRE engine loading at GEMA. The UAW is committed to working with the Company to continue doing everything we can to ensure this new engine launch is successful." said General Holiefield, Vice President and Director of the UAW, Chrysler Department.

Today’s announcement follows a thorough site selection review by the company and actions by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Village of Dundee in support of the project.

Production of the 1.4-liter engine at GEMA will begin in the fourth quarter of 2010. The first application of the engine will be in the North American-built Fiat 500 that will go into production in 2011.

Chrysler Group has two plants at the GEMA complex, located at 5800 North Ann Arbor Road outside Dundee. In addition to the South plant which will produce the FIRE, the North Plant, opened in October 2005, produces the World Gas Engine, Chrysler Powertrain’s naturally-aspirated, four-cylinder engine family.

Chrysler Group LLC Introduces Fiat’s 1.4-liter, In-line 4-cylinder, Fully Integrated Robotized Engine with Multiair Technology to Powertrain Lineup

Inside Fiat's MultiAir engine

Auburn Hills, Mich., Dec 17, 2009 - Chrysler Group LLC will debut Fiat’s 1.4-liter, in-line four-cylinder Fully Integrated Robitized Engine (FIRE) featuring Multiair in the Fiat 500 starting in 2010. The engine, well-suited for a small car application, delivers 100 horsepower (75 kW) at 6,750 rpm and 95 lb.-ft. (129 N•m) of torque at 4,250 rpm. A turbo version also will be available in future applications. The 1.4-liter FIRE features Fiat’s Multiair technology, which significantly reduces emissions while improving fuel economy and power delivery.

The 1.4-liter FIRE features four valves per cylinder and incorporates state-of-the-art technology for Fully Variable Valve Actuation (FVVA), also known as MultiAir. Multiair is a sophisticated technology that delivers an increase in power up to 10 percent and a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions up to 10 percent when compared to similar engines. A turbo version of the engine is also planned and will produce a fuel economy improvement up to 25 percent when compared to a V-6 engine with equivalent power.

The MultiAir system consists of electro-hydraulic variable valve actuators filled with conventional oil, which is interposed between the camshaft and each valve. A solenoid valve is energized every 360-degree camshaft rotation, regulating the quantity of oil addressed to the actuator or to a reservoir. The lift of the valve is a function of the quantity of oil addressed to the actuator, ranging from full lift to complete valve closure. Each solenoid valve may also delay application of the actuator in advance, leading to late valve opening or early valve closing.

MultiAir is exclusive for Chrysler Group in North America and is based on a series of Fiat Powertrain patents related to hardware, combustion strategies and controls that allow for full control of the lift and timing of engine valves.

In the early 1970s, robotics in assembly plants was not common. The term “FIRE” came into existence when Fiat integrated the use of robotics in the production process of manufacturing plants. Although mechanized assembly is commonplace today, the brand name FIRE has remained with Fiat’s powertrain lineup.

Chrysler's new Pentastar V6

The 1.4-liter FIRE with Multiair is the world's first mass production engine to incorporate such technology to control the intake valves. Dedicated components have been developed to accommodate four "bricks" (one for each cylinder), which package relevant components. MultiAir technology can be adapted to different types of engines, including Diesels for enhanced NOx control, and is planned for Chrysler Powertrain's four-cylinder World Gas Engine and all-new Pentastar V-6.

Press releases courtesy of Chrysler Media

Friday, December 11, 2009

C-Evo chassis world preview

Alfa Romeo has released pictures of their new Giulietta sedan. The Giulietta is the first Fiat Group Auto that uses the C-Evo chassis. C-Evo is the evolution of Fiat's compact chassis currently used in the Fiat Bravo. This chassis (or platform architecture) is one of the technologies being given to Chrysler and is said to save Chrysler at least $1 billion in developmental costs.

Fiat Bravo

Fiat spent an estimated $148 million (100 Million Euros) upgrading and revising the current compact chassis with a new, advanced McPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension, lengthening the wheelbase and cutting the overhangs front and rear. In addition, Fiat has increased the chassis stiffness and also increased the crash worthiness (the current Bravo is already know for its five star crash rating and is listed at the top of its category by NCAP, Europe's leader in crash testing assessment).

Another advantage with this platform is it utilizes space frame technology, this allows its wheelbase to be easily adjusted to meet various models specifications.

Dodge 2010-2014 product plans (click to enlarge)

For example, in the compact segment, this chassis is being used for the replacement for the Dodge Caliber, which is due out in 2012. In the mid-size segment, the replacements for the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring will come out utilizing the C-Evo chassis, but with a longer wheelbase, this mid-size chassis is called the D-Evo, and is due out in 2013.

An added plus with the C-Evo is that besides front wheel drive, the chassis offers all wheel drive capabilities, opening up a new market for Chrysler in the compact and mid-size market segments.

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta will premier during the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, held from March 4- 14. Below is the Alfa Romeo press release on the new Giulietta:

Alfa Romeo Giulietta: world preview

The New 2010 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The new Alfa Romeo Giulietta will be presented to the world at the forthcoming Geneva Car Show. Sales of the new model will start in spring and be gradually extended to all the major markets. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is expected to give new impetus to the brand in one of Europe's most important segments.

The 1954-56 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint

In the Centenary year, the name is a tribute to an automobile myth and Alfa Romeo.

The 1960-1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ

The Giulietta is a car that, in the fifties, caught the imagination of generations of car enthusiasts, making the dream of owning an Alfa Romeo and enjoying the high level of comfort and technical excellence accessible for the first time.

The Alfa Romeo Style Centre has produced a new Giulietta, a sports car capable of expressing both great agility on the most demanding routes and providing comfort on everyday roads.

A new architecture for enhancing road hold and agility in total comfort and safety

Meet the new Alfa Romeo, a compact created to appeal to customers who seek top dynamic performance and those who are looking for a distinctive style and a high level of comfort.

The Giulietta has brand-new architecture, designed to meet the expectations of the most demanding customers in terms of road holding, agility and safety. Its excellent dynamic performance and great comfort are the result of refined technical solutions implemented in the suspensions, a next-generation steering system, a rigid yet light structure made of aluminum and high-strength steel, and state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies.

Alfa DNA, a device which customizes behavior of the car according to different driving styles and road conditions, can adapt the new Alfa Romeo to the needs of each individual driver to enhance driving pleasure and comfort. The new architecture of the Alfa Giulietta was designed to integrate and enhance all on board systems. Three set-ups (Dynamic, Normal and All Weather) are available and can be selected using the Alfa DNA. This device - standard across the entire range of the new model - modifies the operating parameters of the engine, of the steering system, and of the Q2 electronic differential, in addition to fine-tuning the stability control system (VDC) behavioral logics.

Italian style sportiness and comfort

The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Concept Car

Combining sportiness and elegance, the Alfa Giulietta is the result of Alfa Romeo's new direction in style and technology - an approach that started with the 8C Competizione super car and which recalls the brand's glorious past while projecting its traditional values of technology and emotion into the future.

The front end is developed around a “trilobe shape” and features a brand-new interpretation of the classic Alfa grille, set into the front bumper and suspended between the two air intakes. The entire car develops from here to combine a lively personality with an elegant form.

The front headlamps implement LED technology and a Daytime Running Lights (DRL) function for maximum active safety.

The profile of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is rich in personality and confers the appearance of an agile, solid model. This is above all the result of the coupé shaped side windows, which highlight dynamic and streamlined shape, and of the concealed rear handles. The side ribbing adds to the car's slender look, while the taut lines closing in on the rear end accentuate the "wedge" shape of the body.

The style of the rear end, like that of the front and the side, is strong and consolidates the impression of a muscular car, firmly gripped to the road.

Like the headlamps, the rear light clusters implement LED technology, to the advantage of preventive safety, in addition to good looks.

The interior design is taut and light: a horizontally developed dashboard with aluminum element accents and rocker controls which explicitly recall the 8C Competizione. Painstaking attention to detail and the high quality of the materials used are the most advanced expression of Italian style.

Finally, the dimensions of the new car give a compact, dynamic shape combined with excellent roominess and a capacious boot (350 liters): the car is 4.35 meters long, 1.46 meters high and 1.80 meters wide with a wheelbase of 2.63 meters.

Innovative engines for exciting, environmentally friendly driving

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta guarantees top level performance and next-generation technology in terms of technical solutions, performance and environmental friendliness. Four Turbo engines will be available at launch, all Euro 5 compliant and fitted with a standard “Start&Stop” system for reducing consumption and emissions: two petrol engines (1.4TB - 120 HP and 1.4TB MultiAir - 170 HP) and two diesel engines (1.6 JTDM - 105 HP and 2.0 JTDM - 170 HP, both belonging to the second generation of JTDM engines). Finally, the range is completed with the lively 1750 TBi - 235 HP with an exclusive Quadrifoglio Verde configuration.

Safety and dynamic behavior at the top of the segment

Alfa Romeo Giulietta was designed to obtain the maximum Euro NCAP rating in order to offer total protection to driver and passengers. Furthermore, suspension, steering and braking system are designed to be perfectly balanced even during extreme maneuvers.

Finally, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is fitted with the most sophisticated electronic devices for dynamic control as standard: VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), DST (Dynamic Steering Torque), Q2 electronic differential and Alfa DNA selector. All these systems guarantee driving safety, dynamism and performance in the best Alfa Romeo tradition.

Turin, 2nd December 2009
After checking out the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta, I can't wait to see what Chrysler comes up with for this chassis!
Press release courtesy of Fiat Group Press, Dodge product slide courtesy Chrysler Media.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fiat 500: I'll take the diesel!

MultiJet II, Fiat's new innovation in diesel engine technology (you can read a description here) is making its debut in the Fiat 500 and 500C (the cabriolet version of the normal 500). MultiJet II is one of the technologies that Fiat is sharing with Chrysler and it could change how Americans perceive diesel engines and prefer what type of engine equips their car.

Below is a comparison of the specifications on all the available engines in the Fiat 500 range. First up is the new MultiJet II 1.3L :

New 1.3L 16V MultiJet II Turbo diesel

95hp @ 4000 rpm
148 lbs ft @ 1500 rpm

0-100 kph: 10.7 seconds
Top Speed: 180 kph (113 mph)

Fuel consumption (combined urban/Hway): 3.9 l/100km (60 mpg)

Compare the output of the new MultiJet II engine to the output of the previous diesel engine:

1.3L 16V Turbo diesel

75HP @ 4000 rpm
107 lbs ft @ 1500 rpm

0-100 kph: 12.5 seconds
Top Speed: 165 kph (103 mph)

Fuel consumption (combined urban/Hway): 4.2 l/100km (56 mpg)

Now compare the new MultiJet II engine to the gasoline engine version of the 500:

1.4L 16V gasoline engine

105 HP @ 6000 rpm
97 lbs ft @ 4250 rpm

0-100 kph: 10.5 seconds
Top Speed: 182 kph (113 mph)

Fuel consumption (combined urban/Hway): 6.3 l/100km (37 mpg)

Below are the engine specs for the Fiat 500 Abarth:

1.4 16V Turbo in the 500 Abarth
135 HP @ 5500 rpm
153 lbs ft @ 3000 rpm

0-100 kph: 7.9 seconds
Top Speed: 205 kph (128 mph)

Fuel consumption (combined urban/Hway): 6.5 l/100km (36 mpg)

1.4 16V Turbo with esseesse (SS) performance upgrade kit

160hp @ 5750 rpm
153 lbs ft @ 3000 rpm (170 lbs ft in sports boost mode)

0-100 kph: 7.4 seconds
Top Speed: 211 kph (132 mph)

Fuel consumption (combined urban/Hway): 6.5 l/100km (36 mpg)

What we see is the MultiJet II engine has outstanding performance with a large amount of torque, substantially more than the 1.4L gas engine (51 lbs ft more!). This maximum torque figure is reached at very low revs (1500 rpm or just over idle), and translates to always having lots of passing power available all the time. Driving a high torque car is a treat because you never have to "wind" the engine up, just use slight toe pressure and away you go!

It is the opposite way most small gasoline engines drive, where the peak torque output is high in the rpm range and you're always revving the engine, downshifting and generally working pretty hard to keep up or pass traffic. It's also one of the reasons why Americans traditionally aren't "into" small four cylinder engines.

With the advent of MultiJet II, all that's out the window. This technology has the potential to make as big a difference in the US as it did when Fiat introduced its predecessor, the Common Rail diesel, in 1997. Common Rail changed how diesel engines performed, making them very much "un-diesel like". At once, diesels were smoother, less noisy, less stinky, and more powerful.

Fiat sold this technology off and all major car makers now use it. The result is, in Europe, the market responded by going from a 15% diesel car mix to a 50% mix.

Here in America, we haven't been exposed to this new technology in a large degree because diesel engines are normally available here in only the more expensive car ranges. Now that's going to change.

With MultiJet II, now smaller, less expensive diesels can achieve fantastic performance and drivability gains and still retain the high fuel efficiency, low cost maintenance characteristics that diesels are known for.

Even with Common Rail and MutiJet I, diesels were still down somewhat on horsepower compared with a gasoline engine. Engine displacement was still needed to produce the power the market expected. MultiJet II gives the Fiat engineers the ability to fine tune the engine, maximizing efficiency and power while increasing comfort and refinement with also the potential of reducing displacement.

The proof is in the comparison of the previous diesel engine specs. Compared with the original 1.3L diesel (equipped with MultiJet I), MultiJet II boosts horsepower by 20hp and torque an incredible 41 lbs ft! That's a huge number for a 1.3L engine.

Or, using a theoretical example (using the same specific output of the above MultiJet II engine), you could potentially have a 1.0L diesel engine making 75 hp with a substantial 116 lbs ft of torque! And remember, a physically smaller engine has many advantages over a larger engine, with the same power, in terms of packaging, fuel economy and performance.

All this boils down to a few important points.

First is this 1.3L MultiJet II diesel, being available in the Fiat 500 (which is a relatively lower priced car), offers a new generation of Americans the ability to access a new type of diesel engine with drivability characteristics never before experienced by them. Their experience of driving a highly fuel efficient, powerful, fun to drive car has the potential to make a large impact on what is expected out of a fuel efficient car.

The second point is that after driving a diesel car, many of these owners will look for another diesel car when they move on. Fiat/Chrysler will be in a unique position to upgrade these owners with other diesel offerings. Other car manufacturers will sure to follow with their own diesel offerings (with a licensed copy of MultiJet II, no doubt).

The third point is that all this technology is available today, and it's relatively simple, easily understood compared with electric-hybrid technology. With Fiat's (and now Chrysler's) diesel experience, everyone can start driving a fuel efficient car now and not have to wait or be the beta tester for electric-hybrid technology that still needs a lot of work before it can be used by everyone.

From the above points, we see that MultiJet II could make a big impact on what Americans drive in the future.

So what will it be? A 1.3L 16V MultiJet II turbo diesel or the gasoline 1.4L 16V engine? I know which one I want!

*Fuel economy figures are European and converted to US MPG

The MultiJet II diesel engine making its debut in the Fiat 500 and 500C.

The new 1.3 Multijet II (Euro5) engine, with Start&Stop fitted as standard, is making its first appearance on the Fiat 500 and 500C models. It has a maximum power output of 95 HP at 4000 rpm and delivers a torque of 200 Nm (20.4 kg / 148 lbs ft)at only 1500 rpm.

Available on all trim levels, with an on-the-road list price that starts at 13,900 Euros, the new power unit delivers excellent performance (a top speed of 180 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds) with decidedly low consumption and CO2 emissions: 3.9 l/100km and 104 g/km (mixed cycle), respectively.

Developed and produced by FPT - Fiat Powertrain Technologies, the 1.3 Multijet II 95 HP engine belongs to the second generation of Multijet power units and has new common rail injectors which, courtesy of a balanced hydraulic servo valve, control the amount of diesel injected into the combustion chamber with a high degree of precision, making the injection sequence much faster and more flexible than previously (up to 8 injections in the same cycle). This allows better control of the diesel combustion with benefits for consumption, emissions, noise levels and drivability.

The new 95 HP engine on the Fiat 500 and 500C is equipped with a variable geometry turbocharger (!) that ensures optimum turbocharging throughout the entire operating range. Fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 8% in the urban cycle thanks also to the Start&Stop system that switches the engine off temporarily and then restarts it. With Euro 5 type-approval, the new 1.3 litre engine enhances its environmentally-friendly pedigree further through the particulate filter (DPF) integrated in the engine compartment which improves its efficiency even more, especially in the first few moments after cold starting.

The second generation Multijet power units represent the development of the common rail injection system which today, after the JTD (1997) and Multijet (2003) engines, allow Fiat Group Automobiles to steal a march in this field and be prepared for future regulations. The Multijet II engines use increasingly advanced "strategies" to improve combustion: for example, the use of injection rate shaping (two consecutive injections with no hydraulic interval) reduces noise, fuel consumption and, in view of Euro 6, harmful emissions (a potential 30% reduction of nitrogen oxides).

Lastly, together with the new 1.3 Multijet II 95 HP engine, the new rear torsion beam (semi-independent) suspension with an anti-roll bar is also making its debut on the Fiat 500 range. It is derived from the Abarth 500 model and has already made an appearance on the 500C. It gives better handling and a more comfortable ride.

Turin, 25th November 2009
Press release courtesy of Fiat Group Press

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Fiat/Chrysler deal summed up: Cash runs out; assets that produce cash don't...

Sergio Marchionne- CEO of Fiat and Chrysler

Much is being written about the Fiat/Chrysler linkup. Many times the the writer will drop in the statement "...Fiat didn't pay anything for Chrysler". It's a sensational statement that adds some bite to the article (hey, how could they give away a company for free and where can I get mine?), however, the author neglects to mention what Fiat did exchange for their stake in Chrysler (if someone thinks you can get a multi-billion dollar company for nothing, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I want to show you).

Here's my take on the Fiat/Chrysler deal. I've posted my opinion on the subject on a few different news sites and I thought I would post them here for posterity;)

It's true that Fiat didn't give cash for its stake in Chrysler (and all of its troubles), but it is giving them many billions (estimated to be up to 10 billion) of dollars in cutting edge technology.

Now this estimated $10 billion in technology isn't my estimate, but industry experts. This technology so impressed the US and Canadian governments, they gave the go ahead for the Fiat/Chrysler deal.

"Free" Technology

Here's just some of the technology Fiat brings to the table:

Fiat MultiAir Benefits (click to enlarge)

1. MultiAir engine technology- A major revision to the internal combustion engine, MultiAir offers more power, reduced fuel consumption, and lower exhaust emissions compared to conventional gas engines. It's been called "variable valve timing on steroids" and is basically a bolt on application.

Fiat MultiJet II Benefits (click to enlarge)

2. MultiJet II- Fiat is a leader in diesel engine technology. They invented the Common Rail diesel, an advancement that improved refinement in passenger car diesels. This technological breakthrough boosted sales of diesel cars from 15% to 50% in Europe. Now, with MultiJet II technology, diesels will offer even more refinement, power and fuel economy.

Fiat C-Evo platform is adaptable(click to enlarge)

3) C-Evo chassis- A completed, modern platform, already engineered, ready to go for Chrysler. Developing a new automotive platform can cost at least $1 billion.

Fiat Dual Dry Clutch Transmission Benefits (click to enlarge)

4) A new dual, dry clutch transmission that reduces fuel consumption as compared with traditional automatic transmissions. Fiat has invested approximately $750 million in this transmission.

Fiat Grande Punto Abarth S2000

5) Fiat is a leader in small car design. This is what Ford said about Fiat: "...they are acknowledged as having been for many years one of the world's leading manufacturers of small cars". Even BMW is actively pursuing Fiat for help in designing their new small BMW.

The list of what Fiat brings to Chrysler could fill a website;)

Sergio Marchionne, the architect of this deal, summed this up best with "...You're getting a whole pile of assets that produce cash, which is as good or probably better than cash." and " ...Cash runs out; assets that produce cash don't."

The Plan

Currently, Fiat doesn't own Chrysler but they effectively run it, and after sitting through the five year plan they outlined November 4th (an eight hour presentation), you can see the monumental work they have done on behalf of the American company and its employees.

Part of the plan is for Chrysler to pay back the government loans by 2014, and profits generated here in this country stay in this country (by the way, Fiat hasn't received a penny for any of the considerable work it has done).

If the plan succeeds, they have earned their 35% stake in the company. Remember, nobody was interested in saving Chrysler or their American/Canadian workers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chrysler's Ram brand adding two Fiat based products

Chrysler's Ram brand product plan (click for full size view)

During Chrysler's Five Year Product Plan (announced November 4) , the Ram brand presented plans to sell two Fiat based commercial vans during the 2012 model year. As you can see from the above slide, there will be a small and large van proposed. Details are emerging on which vans from the Fiat lineup they'll be.

The small van looks like it will be the Fiat Doblò, a newly redesigned version of the "2006 International Van of the Year". The Doblò is a popular vehicle in Europe, and in America, will be a strong competitor to the similar sized Ford Transit Connect van. According to the slide, this small commercial van vehicle will be imported by Fiat (more specifically Turkey, where it is manufactured).

The choice for the larger vehicle was between two Fiat products, the Fiat Ducato and the Iveco Daily. These two vehicles are comparable to the outgoing Dodge Sprinter van (previously supplied to Dodge by Daimler). At this time, it appears the choice will go to the Fiat Ducato, a van that is (in Europe) more economical and generally less expensive than the old Sprinter. Previously, I've posted a brief overview of the Ducato and the Daily here.

Interestingly, the chart above says the large vehicle will be based off of a Fiat platform, so that sounds like this vehicle will be a Ducato derived commercial van manufactured here in the USA.

The addition of these two modern, efficient, proven vehicles to Chrysler's Ram brand product lineup will come at the right time as fuel prices and business expenses are expected to rise within the next few years. Vans like these will help American businesses save money and break away from the uneconomical, old fashioned cargo vans produced by GM and Ford.

Below is a look at the Fiat Doblò (this vehicle will receive a name change here in America), courtesy of Fiat Group Press.

Fiat Doblò Cargo

The newly redesigned Fiat Doblò is a vehicle designed to meet a need for functionality and comfort that makes the most of interior space and can accommodate up to seven people (in passenger van configuration). An authentic 'family space' that can rely on top-class safety, economy and respect for the environment.

Compared to the previous version that sold approximately one million units, the new model has been completely revamped in terms of style, engines and technical specifications. These aspects make the new Fiat Doblò the "best in class" both in terms of space and in terms of reduced emissions.

Fiat Doblò passenger van

All this has been achieved through the use of a new platform, more passenger space (with a wheelbase of 2755 mm, the biggest in its segment), a roomy 790 liter luggage compartment, reduced CO2 emissions (129 g/km with the 1.3 Multijet 90 HP engine, the lowest in its category), standard safety features and highly modular interiors with seats that can be folded and tilted.

Style and comfort

Fiat Doblò Cargo

The look is very cutting-edge. With a central shield and side bumpers that are perfectly integrated with the body, the front end blends protection and sophistication while the pronounced wheel arch and sloping shoulder contribute to the vehicle's strong and agile look. The tailgate's essential lines emphasis the accessibility and size of the generous load compartment; clear, sparkling light clusters and expanses of glass give the new Doblò a touch of elegance.

The interiors have also been designed to offer functionality and create attractive, welcoming environments through combination of colors, materials and trims.
Smart solutions for the best use of on-board space, such as a range of storage compartments and flexible interiors, offering up to 7 places, will satisfy the needs of those who make the Doblò a car to be enjoyed with family or friends.

Environment and economy

The Fiat Doblò will offer 4 power units at its launch: a 95 HP petrol engine and three diesel Multijet engines, 90, 105 and 135 HP, which will later be joined by a Natural Power engine with dual fuel system (petrol and methane) and an additional diesel engine with Dualogic robotized gearbox.

All units are lively and offer smooth torque delivery. They are remarkable for driving satisfaction, excellent performance, low noise levels, low operating costs (fuel consumption and maintenance) and also for their reliability and eco-friendliness.

The range is available with Euro 4 and Euro 5 versions and offers a Start&Stop device as standard, which cuts off the engine temporarily when the car is stopped to guarantee reduced fuel consumption and emissions.


Fiat Doblò instrument panel

To ensure optimum dynamic behavior, comfort and active safety in all road surface and load conditions, the vehicle has been equipped with innovative mechanical features including a bi-link rear suspension system available with various component calibrations depending on vehicle application. The Doblò's consistent and predictable road-holding is also guaranteed by the use of state-of-the-art electronic devices for stability control, namely ABS with electronic brake force distribution EBD and, above all, ESP complemented by a hill-holder system that helps the driver during Hill starts and comes as standard on this model.

The vehicle has been designed and built to achieve the highest levels of passive safety, due to a body with crumple zones, front air bags and innovative front side bags. The latter offer protection for both head and chest.

The vehicle also offers technical solutions and equipment that create optimum comfort conditions and help keep attention on the road: these include an automatic climate control system with distribution to rear seats, cruise control, parking sensors, a built-in Blue&Me hands-free system and a “Blue&Me TomTom” navigator.

The Doblò Cargo

The Doblò Cargo, also new, is at the top of the professional vehicle category

The new Fiat Doblò is joined by the new Doblò Cargo which has been designed to take its place at the top of its category in terms of performance and functional characteristics. It offers a more roomy load compartment than the previous model: square, regular, fully exploitable and equipped with sliding side doors and generously-sized rear doors to make light work of loading and unloading operations. Record-breaking statistics (interior length up to 2.2 meters, width between wheel arches of 1.23 meters, volume from 3.4 to 4.2 cubic meters, payload from 750 to 1000 Kg, combined fuel consumption of 4.8 liters/100 km and range of 1250 Km with the 1.3 Multijet engine) ensure that the new vehicle can offer substantial benefits in terms of optimization and reduction of running costs.

The range finds expression in 7 different body types: short and long wheelbase van, high top van, short and long wheelbase 5-seater combi; a particularly appealing and brand-new short and long drop-framed version can be easily and cheaply converted for specific trades (refrigeration chambers, fixed and tilting flatbed trucks).

Sources: Chrysler Media and Fiat Group Press