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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Fiat 500 hits the 500,000th mark...

Fiat 500 numbers 499,999, 500,000 and 500,001

There's no doubt that the Fiat 500 is a huge sales hit. The 500 was introduced on July 4, 2007 and, in little more than a month, 70,000 orders were taken in the first two countries (France and Italy) it was marketed. That number grew to more than 105,000 by the end of four months.

By the end of that year more than 140,000 total orders were taken for the 500. That figure had swelled to 390,000 by the middle of last year.

Today, March 29, 2010, Fiat celebrates the making of the 500,000th Fiat 500 at the Tychy, Poland factory.

With production set to begin at Toluca, Mexico for the US and Latin American markets later this year, the Fiat 500 promises to add a considerable number to its already impressive sales totals.

Below is the Fiat Press release on this major achievement of the Fiat 500:

The 500,000th Fiat 500 rolls off the production line

Another important milestone in the history of the Fiat 500 and the Fiat Auto plant in Tychy, Poland, where the car is manufactured. The 500,000th Fiat 500 rolled off the production line there only last week. The car in question was finished in Funk White and powered by a 69 HP 1.2 engine with Start&Stop.

Fiat 500 display in Japan, 2008

On sale and in demand in 83 different countries around the world, from Italy to Brazil, South Africa to Japan, the new Fiat 500 has reached this historic figure in only 21 months from its launch. The biggest ten markets for the first 500,000 cars have been: Italy (244,755 units), France (58,425), the Great Britain (51,445), Germany (48,319), Holland (13,682), Switzerland (10,765), Spain (10,103), Belgium (9,548), Japan (9,030) and Austria (8,648). It is well worth remembering too that 80 per cent of customers choose the top of the range versions (the Lounge and Sport) which are fitted as standard with Blue&Me.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne receiving the 2008 European Car of the Year award

This new record has once again focused the media spotlight on the Fiat 500, and has confirmed its reputation as an Italian style icon capable of winning the hearts and minds of the public and the international motoring press. In addition to success on the sales front, the Fiat 500 has already won 40 international awards, has received the prestigious EuroNCAP 5 star rating”, and boasts a dedicated internet site ( with a community of over 120,000 users from 206 different countries taking part in 30 online activities and clocking up an amazing 240 million page visits.

Fiat 500C

This production record and the model’s unquestionable popularity are the result of the 500 project’s great ability to generate new versions. This was demonstrated by the debut of the 500C, the original cabriolet version of the 500 that pays homage to the 1957 soft-top but comes packed with advanced solutions in terms of build, engines and passenger comfort.

Fiat 500 By Diesel

The range offers a choice of two versions (saloon and Cabrio), 6 configurations (Pop, Lounge, Sport, Rock, by Diesel and PUR-O2), 2 petrol engine (a 69 HP 1.2 and a 100 HP 1.4) and 2 turbo-diesel engines (a 75 HP 1.3 Multijet and a 95 HP 1.3 Multijet II), all Euro 5 and available with either manual or sequential robotized (Dualogic) gearboxes. Remember too that the Fiat 500 has also inspired a number of Special Editions and show cars, from the 500 by Diesel to the Barbie® show car. And this is without mentioning the fascinating, high performance Abarth 500 and Abarth 500C. In brief, the Fiat 500 is a genuine “platform” for a whole family of cars characterized by technology and attention to detail normally only available on far more prestigious automobiles.

Turin, 29th March 2010
With thanks to Fiat Group Press

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The US to get an upgraded Fiat 500...

Redesigned Fiat Panda due out 2011

News on the internet is that the US version of the Fiat 500 will use the upgraded platform from the upcoming 2011 Fiat Panda and not the current European platform.

The European 500 will not receive the upgrade because the cost of switching the factory over to the new platform will be too expensive. The US 500 will get the upgrade because the 500 is starting fresh at a new factory.

This platform upgrade will give the US 500 an advantage over its European cousin.

The chassis on the current Fiat 500 was derived from the Fiat Panda (which dates back to 2003). It was upgraded and refined in 2007 for use in the 500 and has held up very well.

The new, redesigned 2011 Panda will use a further revised version of the current platform and boasts significant improvements in torsional rigidity, strengthened crash structures and improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics.

This has been achieved with the use of even more high strength steel compared to the current 500 platform, reinforcing the side rocker panels, the rear cross member and frame rails.

Additionally, the roof on the US Fiat 500 will be strengthened to better withstand US spec rollover tests and the the reinforced rockers, and side members will help cope with higher speed US rear and side impact type tests.

This revised platform also offers all wheel drive capability.

Longer wheelbase?

Fiat 500 with 4 inch longer wheelbase

One significant feature of the new Panda platform is the wheelbase will be stretched to 2400mm, up 100mm from the current 2300mm. That leads to speculation that the 500 could also receive the longer wheelbase. However, the reports on the internet state that the US 500 will look identical to the European version.

I would say almost identical because the front bumper and the rear tailgate of the US 500 will be different to accommodate the North American license plate. That change alone cost Fiat $10 million .
With that cost in mind, it doesn't seem likely Fiat will make any changes to the wheelbase of the US 500.

The Fiat 500 Giardiniera

The Fiat 500 Giardiniera is a station wagon version of the normal 500 (à la Mini Clubman) and will use the extended Panda wheelbase. This model was tentatively announced last year as arriving possibly later this year and eventually coming to the US, however, lately there has been little talk from Fiat about this model. Due to the projected poor economic conditions this year, it appears the 500 Giardiniera intro will be delayed. It's better to introduce new models on an economic upswing which is expected to happen next year. We'll find out more in a few weeks when Fiat announces on April 21 its product plans for the next few years.


Summing up, if we can believe these reports (and they make sense), it sounds like great news! I'll keep an eye on this for you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chrysler to manufacture the Fiat 500EV...

In a surprise move, Chrysler has announced it intends to build the Fiat 500 EV it displayed at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. I have previously reported on that vehicle here, but briefly, this all electric vehicle is different then the electric/gas hybrid Fiat 500 that has been under development in Italy. You can read more about Fiat's hybrid system here.

In the below Chrysler press release, you can read some of the details about the EV system. These details where lacking when the 500EV concept car debuted in Detroit during January this year.

Because details on the 500EV propulsion system were scarce, it was speculated that the 500EV was a distant concept and would not see production anytime soon. I myself felt the hybrid 500 Fiat has been working on would beat the 500EV to production.

When Chrysler had shelved plans on building three electric vehicles previously planned before Fiat became the controlling owner, it was widely assumed that electric vehicles would not be part of a new Chrysler lineup.

Todays announcement dispels that speculation and confirms Fiat's faith in Chrysler's electric vehicle expertise.

Switching gears, on a subject not related to the electric 500, what is noteworthy, at the end of the press release, it confirms the gas Fiat 500 will "...debut in late 2010".

Below is the official Chrysler press release:

Chrysler Group LLC to Develop New Fiat 500 Electric Vehicle for the United States

*New Fiat 500EV demonstrates benefits of Chrysler Group and Fiat Group alliance

*Zero-emission Fiat 500EV provides an environmentally friendly, clean, quiet driving experience freeing customers from escalating fuel costs and costly oil changes

Auburn Hills, Mich., Mar 22, 2010 -

Chrysler Group LLC today announced its plans to engineer and produce a pure electric vehicle using the Fiat 500 platform. Shown earlier this year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, the Fiat 500EV demonstrates the immediate benefits of the alliance between Chrysler Group and the Fiat Group as well as the speed at which the two companies can work together on advanced vehicle programs.

The alliance with Fiat presented new opportunities to merge Chrysler Group engineering knowledge with new platforms and the Fiat 500EV is an outstanding example of our efforts,” said Scott Kunselman, Senior Vice President Engineering—Chrysler Group LLC. “The Fiat 500 is a small, lightweight platform perfect for integrating electric-vehicle technology.”

The Fiat 500EV powertrain is comprised of three main systems; high power electric powertrain module, advance lithium ion battery, and an EV control unit to manage power flows. Beginning in 2012, Chrysler Group will manufacture the Fiat 500EV for the United States market. All powertrain engineering and vehicle development will take place at Chrysler Group headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but will be competitive with similar electric vehicles in the market.

Chrysler Group is the vehicle electrification center of competence for both Chrysler Group and Fiat Group. The company is exploring ways to promote zero-emission transportation and the development of an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure through partnerships to be announced in the future.

Last year Chrysler Group announced the company’s intention to build the Fiat 500 with a combustion engine for North America. The vehicle will debut in late 2010.

With thanks to Chrysler Media

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fiat at Geneva: The World I’d Like...

The Fiat stand this year at the Geneva Motor show was quite attractive. The theme was "The World I’d Like" seen through the eyes of children. The concept is to "listen" to the little ones who will be making the world big one day.

This display has won the "2010 Creativity Award" at the auto show for its colorful and playful world with clear connotations of childhood.

Below is the Press release from Fiat on the award and about the stand and Fiat's vision for the future. You'll see from the videos that it was a spectacular display:

The Fiat Automobiles stand at the recent Geneva Motor Show has received the “2010 Creativity Award” for its original design and innovative display concepts. Now in its seventh year, this sought-after award is presented by the “Club de publicité et communication de Genève”. The aim of the award is to reward creative and innovative stand design, to focus attention on quality and practicality and, of course, to attract greater attention from the public. The main criterion applied to choosing the winner is always the originality of the stand itself.

This year the jury chose the Fiat stand, announcing that “Fiat took a chance and created a display area outside classical, conventional schemes. The stand welcomed visitors to the Motor Show into a colorful and playful world with clear connotations of childhood.

Colorful rainbow themes decorated not only the walls but the floor too, with rainbow bridges and colored carpets. The overall effect was extremely attractive and clearly visible even from a distance.

The jury’s attention was attracted particularly by Fiat’s original and innovative color configurator.

Two bridges provided visitors to the stand with an overview of all the models on display.

Though technically simple, the stand was extremely well-conceived.

The jury has also noted that Fiat makes an effort to distinguish itself from other brands every year”.

This year’s original stand was based on the concept of “The World I’d Like”, seen through the eyes of children. As a company, Fiat is looking to the future and therefore eager to listen to the wishes of children today, because they will grow up to make tomorrow’s world a great place to live.

The stand was therefore drawn up using the children’s ideas, and expressed their imaginations and hopes for a future in which respect for the environment will play an ever greater role. The result was a bright and happy area where houses floated on clouds and a huge rainbow welcomed visitors into the Fiat world.

At the center of the stand, a practical but playful 500 configurator reflected the mood of the rest of the display area. Between the houses and clouds of the children’s dream city were spaces for the latest developments in automobile technology – cars that have taken a giant step towards sustainable mobility. Fiat has always been dedicated to the cause of environmental protection, as the latest recognition from JATO demonstrates. In a survey of the products of the ten best selling automobile brands in Europe, Fiat again emerged as the brand with the lowest average CO2 emissions for cars sold in 2009, at only 127.8 g/km (even better than the 133.7 g/km of 2008). This is the third year running for Fiat to top the list.

Part 1 of the Fiat Press conference at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. Part 2 is below.

A fundamental contribution to this impressive result comes from the dramatic growth in sales of cars powered by methane, the most ecological and economical of fuels available today. The forward-looking decision to develop methane-fueled vehicles, taken over ten years ago, has established Fiat as the unquestioned leaders in OEM methane-fueled vehicles in Europe, with around 350,000 units already sold. We should not forget that Fiat is the first and only manufacturer to offer, in its Natural Power range, a total of 14 models of cars and commercials designed to meet the mobility requirement of a truly broad public, including retailers, tradesmen and distributors.

Part 2 of the Fiat press conference at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show

Fiat’s ecological supremacy is the result of long-term strategy based on two main pillars. Firstly Fiat offers a wide choice of high-tech solutions for reducing consumption and emissions, including the brand-new Twin-Air two-cylinder engine, the revolutionary MultiAir engines, second generation Multijet turbo-diesels, alternative dual-fuel (petrol-LPG and petrol-methane) engines and the innovative Start&Stop system. Secondly, Fiat puts a great deal of effort into making customers more aware of their responsibilities and helping them drive more ecologically. This is the philosophy behind the development of eco:Drive, the innovative software that works via the USB port of the Blue&Me system and analyzes driving style to optimize consumption and emissions.

Turin, 18th March 2010
With thanks to Fiat Group Press and Fiat on the Web

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pininfarina at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show

Maserati GranCabrio

Pininfarina is 80 years old and it starts the celebrations for this important milestone at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show by holding the world preview of a concept car, the 2uettottanta, and of two examples of recent highly successful stylistic collaboration agreements, the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Maserati GranCabrio.

If you couldn't be at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, here is the official Pininfarina press conference:

Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta

Ferrari 458 Italia

With thanks to Maserati Media and Pininfarina
458 Italia photo used by creative commons license from char1iej's photostream

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fiat at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show

It's been an exciting week for Fiat fans at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show. Below are a couple of videos highlighting the new TWINAIR engine and the rationalizing of car size.

Paolo Martinelli, Fiat Powertrain Vice President, talks about TWIN-AIR engine concept at the 2010 Geneva Motor show. This downsizing concept will feature prominently in Chrysler's rebirth in the next few years. For all the MOPAR fans out there, don't worry, Martinelli knows engines and how to produce horsepower, he previously was head of Scuderia Ferrari's Engine Department from 1994 to 2006 and was responsible for developing the Ferrari V10 Formula One engines that won 6 constructor championships.

To illustrate this downsizing concept, let's take a look at Chrysler's V8 Hemi engine fitted to the Dodge Challenger R/T. This engine is a 5.7L V8 with 376hp, but if you applied the downsizing concept, and using the same specific output of the TWINAIR engine, you can have the same 376hp output in an engine of 3.2L. Now this example is simplified, but it gives you the idea.

Roberto Giolito, Fiat Style Director, discuses the concept of "downshifting" - the values of a large sedan within a small car - and of TWIN-AIR. Looking back, you can trace this "downshifting" concept to 1936 (when Fiat is acknowledged as inventing the modern small car, the Topolino) and throughout the years culminating with the ultimate interpretation, the current 500. This concept of having all the advantages of a bigger car, with none of the disadvantages, will be applied to Chrysler products coming in the near future.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Abarth Punto EVO

The new Abarth Punto Evo was introduced at the 80th International Motor show in Geneva this past week. Let me say, this is one HOT car! I love the size and style.

The Volkswagen GTI and R32 are nice, but the Abarth Punto Evo blows them away with sheer emotional appeal and excitement. In this segment of hot hatches, excitement, design and raw energy are king, and when it comes to that no one can beat an Italian car. Fiat North America are you there? Please bring this car here!

Below, enjoy the official Abarth press release on the Abarth Punto Evo:

ABARTH PUNTO EVO: The EVOlution of power
The EVOlution of race-inspired technology

The new 165 HP Multiair 1.4 turbo petrol engine is the result of a winning partnership between Fiat Powertrain Technology and Abarth race-derived know-how.

Since the Fiat Powertrain engine was first presented at last year’s Geneva motor show, Abarth engineers have been working hard to squeeze every last drop of power out of it and to improve its sporting performance in typical Abarth style.

Multiair engine technology has revolutionized the world of petrol engines. Compared to a conventional petrol engine of equivalent size, a MultiAir engine develops more power (up to 10%) and more torque (up to 15%), while consuming significantly less (up to 10%) and emitting less CO2 (up to 10%), fewer particulates (up to 40%) and less NOx (up to 60%).

The genius of the Multiair engine is embodied in its electro-hydraulic valve control system. Both fuel consumption and pollutant emissions have been slashed by using the engine’s intake valves to control the air flow directly, without a butterfly valve in the intake. Using this already advanced technology as a starting point, Abarth’s development department has made a series of modifications to arrive at the innovative new 165 HP Multiair 1.4 16 V. Power output, for example, has been optimized by the intelligent application of a new, larger turbocharger from Garrett. The result is superb performance with peak torque of 250 Nm (25.5 kgm) at 2250 rpm, and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in only 7.9 seconds.

The sporty new Abarth Punto Evo also features a new performance mode selection system that modulates engine, braking and steering action to offer a choice of two different driving styles - Sport and Normal – to suit road conditions and driver preference.

The mode selector is conveniently located on the central tunnel in front of the gear lever and lets you switch between the two modes quickly and easily, simply by moving a lever. The currently selected mode is displayed on the dashboard. If you are looking for a safe, relaxing drive, all you have to do is select Normal mode, while if you feel the need to enjoy the full performance of your Abarth Punto Evo, flip the switch to Sport position and thrill to the power! Sport mode makes the car more responsive, using electrical servo systems to modify handling and deliver the ultimate sporting feel. Due attention has also been paid to safety of course, so Sport mode also engages the TTC system automatically.

As in rally cars, the driver is assisted by GSI (Gear Shift Indicator). On the Abarth Punto Evo, GSI acts like an intelligent “co-driver” and provides a signal on the instrument panel to tell you when the right moment has arrived to shift up reducing fuel consumption.

The Abarth Punto Evo’s 1.4 Multiair petrol engine also features Fiat’s innovative Start&Stop system. This switches the engine off automatically when the vehicle comes to a halt and the engine is left to idle, and restarts it again as soon as you are ready to move off. The system finds its ideal application in situations like city traffic and sequences of traffic lights. Whenever the control logic permits, Start&Stop automatically switches off the engine, saving up to 10% of fuel consumption and emissions in the urban cycle and up to 3.5% in the NEDC test cycle.

As soon as you take your foot off the brake or engage first gear, the system immediately restarts the engine to give you instant power and responsiveness. On top of this, if you accidentally stall the engine while moving off, all you have to do is press down on the clutch to re-start it automatically.

Start&Stop offers additional benefits in terms of comfort since it eliminates noise and vibrations from the passenger compartment while the car is stationary.

The system is full interactive, and tells you whether the function is engaged or not via clear indications on the instrument panel. Start&Stop can be disengaged quickly and easily by a switch on the dashboard near the steering column.

The innovative Multiair engine guarantees sports performance plus low emissions and reduced fuel consumption. Tests carried out by Abarth engineers have demonstrated that fuel consumption has been reduced despite the fact that power output has been increased. In particular, consumption is only 8.1 l/100 km in the urban cycle; only 6.0 l/100 km in the combined cycle, and 4.8 l/100 km in the extra-urban cycle. The Multiair engine is also impressively clean and already conforms to Euro 5 standards thanks to emissions of only 142g/km.

The EVOlution of active and passive safety

The Abarth philosophy combines both performance and safety. The Abarth Punto Evo is therefore equipped with a series of highly effective systems to guarantee safe handling on all surfaces.

TTC (Torque Transfer Control) is the key to the car’s active safety. TTC improves the transfer of torque from the engine to the wheels and guarantees excellent handling on bends, making fast driving safer and more fun than ever. TTC is a differential locking system that uses the mechanical differential as a reactive element in the transmission to control torque via the braking system and ESP sensors (wheel speed, steering angle, yaw, etc.).

TTC is activated automatically in Sport mode. When engaged, the system automatically adjusts the degree of diff locking applied in accordance with dynamic factors like speed.

In the area of safety, the Abarth Punto Evo sets new standards thanks to 7 airbags, including a driver knee airbag. The Punto Evo is one of very few cars in its segment with a driver knee airbag fitted as standard on all versions.

The Abarth Punto Evo also boasts a powerful and effective braking system. Disc brakes are fitted to all wheels, with ventilated discs and Brembo double piston, fixed calipers at the front. The suspension system is derived from a tried and tested Abarth configuration. Front suspension is provided by independent McPherson struts, while rear suspension is semi-independent with a torsion bar. Abarth has also fitted a larger anti-roll bar together with front springs that are 20% harder than those of a standard suspension system. The result is impeccable road holding plus a high level of passenger comfort.

The EVOlution of race-inspired aerodynamics

Also on a style level, the changes that Abarth have made to the Punto Evo concentrate on improving the car’s performance and aerodynamics.

Compared to the Fiat version of the car, the front bumper has been extended in width to incorporate the side flaps. The black intake cowl on the front has also been made deeper to match the lateral air outlets. This corrects and controls air flow and significantly improves aerodynamic efficiency around the sides of the car, just as on the full rally version.

The rear of the Abarth features a completely redesigned bumper incorporating side air outlets. The diffuser, designed to optimize air flow, is a major feature of the bumper. The diffuser is the same as on the previous version, but has been given a new surround to enhance its looks and align its styling with the front splitter.

The exhaust features larger diameter twin tail pipes, an obvious tribute to Abarth’s glorious history. The new pipes, however have been given a different satin finish.

The reversing lights and rear fog lights have been moved to the center of the diffuser, forming a focal point as on formula racing cars, while new side reflectors outline and accentuate the profile of the aerodynamic deflector, simulating the effect created by the LED light cowl on the rear window.

The spoiler has been completely redesigned, not only in terms of color (it is now the same color as the rest of the body, giving the car a longer, more dynamic look), but in terms of size too. Its longer, tapered shape has improved the car’s CX and CZ values and made the new Abarth Punto EVO more stable than its predecessor.

The logo trim has also been redesigned and combined with a new grille with a more sporty appearance. In the same way the badge is no longer round as on the previous version but has returned to the original shape, as used on the 500.

The side flaps and skirts are finished in the same color as the body, emphasizing the car’s aggressive nature and its “stuck to the road” handling. The side graphics have also been restyled to match the front bumper and given new dimensions. The result is more in proportion with the side of the car and gives the body color areas a sleeker appearance. Another new feature is the completely redesigned 17’’ spoked wheels, with the Abarth scorpion logo in the center.

The car’s interior has been completely updated too. The new materials have an appearance and finish inspired by the surface of motor racing circuits, bringing all the excitement of the track into the car.

The new central control console is divided into two sections. The audio section is characterized by a black surface and a central LCD display. Underneath, a separate section houses the air conditioning controls. The top of the console houses the air vents and a storage compartment.

The purpose-designed Jaeger instrumentation features larger dials for the speedometer and rev counter, new race-inspired graphics, and a new anti-glare cowling covered in leather with open red and yellow stitching.

The visual link with the new textured seats is obvious. The seats and seat backs are upholstered in soft black leather while the seat sides are finished in high-tech fabric to give the ideal balance between comfort, breathability and wear resistance.

Customers can still choose the optional “Abarth Corse” seats by Sabelt. These seats offer a perfect blend of racing characteristics including light weight and the ability hold the body steady against lateral and longitudinal forces.

The EVOlution of power – the “SS” kit

As was to be expected from Abarth, a high performance kit will be made available to coincide with the launch of the Abarth Punto Evo to boost engine power even further. In keeping with Abarth tradition, the tuning kit will give the new car more power than the basic model, enabling the Multiair 1.4 16v Turbo engine to develop a maximum power of 180 HP.

Following Abarth’s performance tuning philosophy, the “SS” kit also includes modifications to chassis components, including perforated, ventilated discs, high performance brake pads, lower springs, and 18” Abarth “SS” alloy wheels painted in white or titanium, and fitted with performance tires.
The performance delivered by the Abarth Punto Evo “SS” kit is further enhanced by a special “powered by BMC” air filter.

As for the Grande Punto and the 500, the Abarth Punto Evo’s “SS” kit comes in a classic wooden performance case. To guarantee the highest standards of quality and safety, the kit can only be installed by Abarth’s official performance tuning network.

Press release courtesy Fiat Group Press

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Head of Fiat brand in North America named...

Great news for American Fiat enthusiasts: The head of the Fiat Brand in North America has been named. Her name is Laura Soave. Soave was recently General Manager - Experiential Marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc., and has extensive experience in marketing and a background in customer relations.

On behalf of the many thousands of happy American Fiat enthusiasts that visit my site, we wish her the best of luck on her new endeavor.

On a personal note, this is a happy time. I have been waiting for this announcement for 27 years. When Fiat decided to leave in 1983, it was a disappointment to me. An analogy would be your favorite sports team picking up and leaving (remember the Brooklyn Dodgers?). Well now the team is back and it's better than ever!

Below is the official announcement of Laura Soave's appointment, courtesy of Chrysler LLC:

Chrysler Group Names Laura Soave to Lead Fiat Brand for North America

Auburn Hills, Mich., Mar 10, 2010 - Chrysler Group LLC today appointed Laura J. Soave to serve as the Head of the Fiat Brand for North America.

Soave will lead the reintroduction of the Fiat Brand in North America, beginning with the Fiat 500. She holds full profit and loss responsibility for the Fiat product portfolio in North America. In her position, Soave, who reports to Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Group, will work with the brand Presidents and industrial leads to fully integrate Fiat product into the marketing, sales, service and dealer network organizations.

“Laura joins Chrysler with extensive experience in automotive marketing,” said Marchionne. “Her rich background will serve as a springboard for reintroducing the Fiat brand when it takes to U.S. and Canadian roads this December after more than a 25-year absence. This truly iconic car exemplifies Italian style, technology and passion and, offers something more. The 500 heralds a new vision of technology’s role in sustainable mobility.”

Soave joins Chrysler Group from Volkswagen of America where she most recently was the General Manager of Experiential Marketing leading consumer marketing initiatives. While at VW, she also was the head of advertising and communications activities for all large passenger vehicles and SUVs. Prior to that, she worked at Ford Motor Company in a variety of positions including most recently as a Brand DNA Manager where she managed the repositioning of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands.

Press release courtesy of Chrysler Media

Abarth at the 2010 Geneva Motor show

Abarth premiered the Abarth 500C at the 80th International Motor Show held in Geneva, March 4-14, 2010. Along with the Abarth 500C, the Abarth Punto Evo also premiered. This Punto would be an awesome addition to Fiat's lineup here in the US. So far, there's no news on if that will happen, but we can still hope.

I'll have more info on the Abarth Punto Evo coming soon.

For those of us who couldn't be there in Geneva, here is the official press conference held by Harald Wester, CEO of Abarth.

Below is information on the the Fiat 500C, and gives an overview of the bases of the Abarth's version. Video courtesy of fiatontheweb's YouTube site:

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta...the next Alfa Spider?

Alfa Romeo is celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2010, and as a tribute, Pininfarina debuted their new concept for an Alfa Romeo Spider at the Geneva Motor show this week. Called the 2uettottanta, it is the successor of the famous Duetto from the 1960's.

Pininfarina, who is also celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, has really pulled out all stops on this car. It is simply gorgeous and we can only hope that this car makes it into production in some form.

As for the 2uettottanta name, it is drawn from Duetto and the word ottanta (which means eighty in Italian).

Below is the Pininfarina press release on the the 2uettottanta. What a car...

To mark its 80th anniversary, Pininfarina proposes an “open” Alfa Romeo that is exciting and a delight to drive

For those who still like to dream in a car. For those looking for a mixture of vanity, entertainment, and the pleasure of life in the open air. For those who love icons as the greatest expression of the age we live in. For those who want their cars to be an uncommon sensory experience in terms of both style and driving, without being obsessed by performance. For those who want to be excited by a dynamic, sporty car that transmits the exclusiveness and refinement typical of an Alfa Romeo spider designed by Pininfarina.

For all of them, we present the 2uettottanta.

2uettottanta: a name that evokes the legendary Duetto, but also the years of activity at Pininfarina, which launches the celebrations for its 80th anniversary with this concept car. And it has decided to do so with a type of car that is by definition, the work of Pininfarina: an Alfa Romeo spider. A very Italian product, which has become an export brand, representing the inexhaustible talent that the whole world associates with Italy.

The 2uettottanta reflects Pininfarina’s determination to look to the future with optimism following tradition, restating its excellence in design and its acknowledged capacity for aesthetic and technological innovation. It is a concept that represents an innovative approach, projected into the third millennium, to a topic that is firmly rooted in Pininfarina history, the 2-seater spider. And like the best Alfa Romeo sports cars to come from Pininfarina’s pencil, the 2uettottanta exalts the driving experience and concentrates on the excitement of being at the wheel of an open car with a great aesthetic personality. It is a car that can make people dream and excites even after many years. The icon of a lifestyle that harks back to a lively, tumultuous period. Like the Duetto of the Sixties, which helped to establish a trend based on the themes of rebellion and escape, thanks to the film “The Graduate”.

The 2uettottanta is also a tribute to Alfa Romeo, which celebrates its centenary in 2010: the alliance between Alfa Romeo and Pininfarina is one of the most significant and durable in the history of the car, one of men and of passion, of design and cutting-edge technical solutions, which has generated an inestimable number of good-looking, innovative cars with plenty of temperament. With a predilection for sports cars and convertibles. The aim is to replicate all this with the 2uettottanta. So a clean, elegant line was chosen for this "simple 2-seater", which is proposed with a 1750 cc turbo engine positioned longitudinally, an obvious reference to the “1750 Veloce” of 1968, one of the many versions derived from the famous “Osso di Seppia” (Cuttlefish). With its red bodywork, inspired by the typical Alfa Romeo paintwork, the 2uettottanta is 1797 mm wide, 4212.6 mm long, 1280 mm high and has a wheelbase of 2500 mm.

The pleasure of driving and feeling in harmony with nature is transformed into light, sleek, refined volumes, and shapes that seem to slip through the air easily. This generates the theme of this concept: the expression of a single volume, which is some way from the ground and suspended. The 2uettottanta almost seems to lift up from the ground “going further”. It is an optical effect achieved thanks to a line that crosses the whole car horizontally. An uninterrupted sign applied to dynamic, sporty proportions – typical of Alfa Romeo spiders – accentuated by the configuration of the passenger compartment, which is shifted significantly to the rear. The force of the design lies in its exaltation of simplicity, which does not need to show its muscles but concentrates purely on agility and harmony.

The front end of the 2uettottanta underlines its true Alfa Romeo character. The design is simple, with a central line that runs smoothly along the nose of the car, while the execution of the surfaces is more sophisticated. At the center, in full view, and anything but a purely decorative element, is the Alfa Romeo shield, which seems to emerge from the heart of the car and to stretch outwards, in Pininfarina’s futuristic, three-dimensional approach. The shield is made of aluminum and incorporates floating horizontal flaps. On either side are the two triangular lateral air intakes. The two elements impressed on the imposing bonnet create a natural link between the logo and the large windscreen, which has been designed as a ring in hand-beaten aluminum that emerges from the body of the car without interrupting its flow. The front headlights, which adopt the latest LED technologies, are embedded under the line that gives the whole car its character.

A strip of carbon in the lower part of the front acts as an air splitter, channeling the air to the rear end of the car.

The side view of the car, where the theme of the single volume is repeated, highlights the flowing line of the whole, with the shapes merging naturally. The horizontal line “cut” into the sides gives a sense of great dynamism; it starts from the front wheel arch and extends back to the rear wheel. Like an athlete, for a car, being slim also means achieving aerodynamic efficiency. Pininfarina has always strived for natural shapes that can convey efficiency and respect of the environment, an approach confirmed by its great commitment to the theme of eco-sustainable mobility. The 2uettottanta is in perfect harmony with nature, becoming the formal expression of a response to the needs of our day: it is an arrow that flies through the wind almost without encountering resistance.

Smooth, essential, soft surfaces even at the rear, which echoes the front, albeit with slightly more emphasis on the muscles. The design combines stylistic simplicity with a strong character in the volumes and proportions, with details designed to underline the car’s dynamic, light personality.

The two bumps seem to emerge from the volume, becoming floating wings that create the roll-over bars behind the seats. At either end, these bars generate an appendix designed to hold the seat belts. Even at the rear the light clusters are slender and embedded under the line that defines the whole section.

Great attention went into the design of the interior. The result is a spacious, comfortable passenger compartment, conceived with light, dynamic volumes, which envelop the occupants in a strong, reassuring embrace. The shapes are sewn into the leather, incorporating the touch controls: in its functions, the 2uettottanta is faithful to its vocation as a car designed to be a delight to drive. The facia extends fluidly to the sides merging into the doorway as the natural continuation of the volume of the car, thus creating a perfect symbiosis between exterior and interior. The dashboard has a driver-oriented configuration with an innovative approach to the classical circular Alfa Romeo “tubes” that contain the instruments.

The tunnel contains the Alfa DNA gear selector in an ergonomic position; this varies the set-up of the car in three modes, Dynamic, Normal and All Weather, adapting the behavior of the various systems on the vehicle (engine, transmission, suspension, steering, brakes, etc.) to the demands of the driver and the different driving conditions. The tunnel runs through the passenger compartment and it gives structure to the chassis, revealing the carbon elements: the choice of this material reflects Pininfarina’s constant research into alternative materials that can make vehicles lighter, reducing consumption and emissions.

Another strong element of the interior is the steering wheel, which is a modern interpretation of the Duetto’s perforated three-spoke wheel, with the addition of a shift paddle for sequential control of the dual-clutch gearbox. An enjoyable drive and comfort are also guaranteed by the anatomical sporty seats. All the interior of the car “floats”: the ventilation ducts are positioned between the passenger compartment and the hull.

The size and design of the tires, which were created specifically for the 2uettottanta in collaboration with Dunlop, accentuate the impression of strong character and force given by the car. The tires are of the low profile type, right on the extreme edges of the plane view: designed by Pininfarina to incorporate the innovative technologies developed by Dunlop, their graphics reflect those of the car. Their aerodynamic shape and very smooth lateral profile, guarantee better road holding and less resistance to air, thus reducing consumption. The rims are treated in aluminum in harmony with the rest of the car, and are a free interpretation of the classic five-circle Alfa Romeo pattern, revealing the high performance carbon-ceramic Alfa Romeo brakes by Brembo.

The 2uettottanta is not a pure styling exercise, but also a project and research: the goal is to grasp the spirit of the spider in the configuration, the proportions and the conception of the car as well as in its stylistic imprint. This working method is part of Pininfarina’s genes. For this project, the Pininfarina creative team were given carte blanche to express the values inherent in the Alfa spider “by Pininfarina”, the values that are deemed to have made the Giulietta Spider or the Duetto all-time classics. To achieve this result, the car was given a particular set-up, with a low center of gravity and a passenger compartment that is very exposed so as not to isolate the occupants from the surrounding environment. The result is to bring the road “nearer” to the eyes of the driver and to increase the sense of dynamism even at low speed.

What is the 2uettottanta effect? Desire. Whoever sees it “must” possess it, drive it, enjoy it. Because the 2uettottanta is not an unattainable dream. Nor does the 2uettottanta only want to impress at first glance, but to achieve a beauty that does not strive solely for immediate confirmation, but gradually reveals all its values and transfers them to the future, making the style eternal. As it did in the case of the Duetto, which continues to be celebrated as an icon of design after more than 40 years.

Courtesy of Pininfarina SpA