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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don't miss the 2011 Fiat FreakOut

The Fiat Lancia Club's annual convention will be held in Nashville on July 21st through the 24th. If you own a new Fiat 500, you can not miss this event! The presenting sponsor will be Fiat USA. They'll bring the Fiat Mobile Experience, which is something you really have to see. If you don't have a Fiat, but are curious, here is your chance to find out what it's all about.

Make sure you have your registration in and have booked your hotel. Here are a few links to help:

Fiat FreakOut main page and itinerary

Fiat FreakOut history

Fiat FreakOut registration form

Main Hotel (the show's group rate deadline has passed, but why not call them and see what they can do)

Fiat FreakOut Caravan style cruise for North East and East coasters (posted on Fiat 500 USA's forum)

Fiat FreakOut Facebook page

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fiat 500 Vehicle App Videos

Fiat 500 Sport in Giallo

Fiat offers an innovative smartphone app for owners of the Fiat 500. The Fiat 500 Vehicle App contains a users guide plus product literature, detailed feature descriptions, photos, videos, frequently asked questions, and the ability to set up service appointments and purchase parts. The Fiat 500 Vehicle App is available for Android, Blackberry and iPhone users through their respective app stores.

For folks that don't have a smartphone and want to see what the app is like, here are some of information videos that the app contains.

Introduction video:

Front seat operation:

Rear seat operation

Note this is a pre-production Fiat 500 and doesn't have carpeting on the seat back. Carpeting was added to production models to make a nicer finished trunk.

How to use the different functions of your EVIC controls:

I'll post more videos in the future under this tag: Fiat 500 Vehicle App

Thanks to Fiat USA's YouTube Channel

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fiat 500 National Ad Campaign Kicks Off

Fiat 500 on top of London

July 4 marks the 54th anniversary of the launch of the Nuova Fiat 500. It will also mark the launch of the Fiat 500's national ad campaign in the US. Now that a critical mass of Fiat dealerships (called Studios) have opened, beginning the campaign makes sense. Currently, there are 70 Fiat Studios opened across the nation, most in what Fiat considers its main market areas.

Fiat Head, Laura Soave, said last week at a media event, “We’re confident we can do a national launch and have the network in place to support the traffic."


Soave at the Fiat 500 Launch

Pre-production versions of the Fiat 500 were first unveiled to the US public at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, with the car having its official debut in February at the Chicago Auto Show.

Whitten Fiat Studio

In November, 130 Fiat Studios were selected. Since then, Fiat Studios have been opening up slowly, but steadily. The original plan was to have most of the Studios opened by March 1 with a national marketing campaign penciled in to begin during March/April. However, delays resulted in having only 30 or so Fiat Studios opened by March 11, the day the first Fiat 500 Prima Edizione was delivered in the US.

Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne attributed the delay to the company underestimating the time needed for dealers to get building plans approved by local zoning authorities.

Criswell Fiat

Another contributing factor was the high standards each Fiat Studio is designed and built to. Soave said it was more important to get facilities right than to rush ahead with half-baked plans. She said: "One of the things we're committed to is the network, that the first impression is perfect."

When you see what a Fiat Studio looks like, you'll see what she means.

The remaining 60 Fiat Studios are expected to be open by the end of the year.

July 4 Events

2007 Fiat 500 Launch Event

The modern Fiat 500 made its debut on July 4, 2007, exactly 50 years after the Nuova Fiat 500 was introduced. To celebrate the new car, a lavish ceremony that 250.000 people attended was held in Torino, Italy. You can view the ceremony here.

Each year since, birthday events for the 500 are held throughout the world. This year will be the first time an event will be held in the US. So far, everything is still under wraps, but expect it be creative, exciting and fun.

While we are waiting, here is a link to previous Fiat 500 Birthday events.

Sources: Internet, Fiat Group Press, Chrysler Media

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiat 500 Named Coolest Car Under $18,000

The Fiat 500 has been named the #1 coolest car under $18,000 by Kelly Blue Book in their "Best, Coolest and Top 10 Lists" competition.

In their "Top 10 Coolest Car List", Kelly was looking for "...the select few, the cars that not only do everything you want and need a car to do, but also do it in an engaging and enjoyable manner, like the friend you have that’s “just fun to be around.” The Fiat 500 won the category.

Kelly's take on the Fiat 500 is:

"Combining European style and heritage with a starting price of $16,000, the 2012 Fiat 500 bridges the gap between the sportier, pricier Mini Cooper and the more pedestrian Toyota Yaris. If you like the big personality of the Mini Cooper but would gladly sacrifice some performance for a more comfortable highway ride and a lower price, you'll find the Fiat 500 worth a look."

"More affordable than a Mini Cooper and more gregarious than a Toyota Yaris, the 2012 Fiat 500 offers a new mix of economy and style."

Read the full story here

Source: Kelly Blue Book

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fiat 500 Number One in JD Power Rankings

Fiat 500 on the assembly line

The Fiat 500 has taken the top honors in Germany's J.D. Power and Associates survey of customer satisfaction. The 500 earned a score of 81.8% in the "A Segment" category placing it first in a class that has been traditionally led by German and Japanese models.

This was the result of Fiat's commitment to achieve the highest possible standards in production, customer service and dealership performance.

In The United States

The US ranking of the Fiat 500 has yet to be done, but Fiat's determination to be the best has already begun to pay off with its partners at Chrysler (who manufactures the Fiat 500 in Mexico for the US market).

J.D. Power and Associates released its US ratings earlier today and the Chrysler Town & Country ranked highest in initial quality in the minivan segment and the Dodge Challenger ranked highest in the mid-size sporty car segment.

Three other Chrysler Group vehicles were highlighted for ranking among the top three vehicles of their competitive class: Dodge Durango in the mid-size crossover/SUV category, Dodge Grand Caravan in the minivan category and Ram Dakota in the mid-size pickup segment.

Fiat 500 Door Installation

“We’ve made steady gains, improving reliability by 58 percent in the past four years, according to our internal warranty data,” said Doug Betts, Senior Vice President – Quality, Chrysler Group. “We still have more work to do as we continue to improve the quality of all our products.”

How Chrysler is Achieving These Results

Chrysler Group continues to invest in quality improvements and has created a stronger, centralized Quality organization. In two years, the quality staff has increased from 200 people to 1,500 staffers working on a coordinated strategy.

Employing Customer Satisfaction Teams

Two years after they were introduced, Customer Satisfaction Teams (CSTs) are eliminating one of the classic issues associated with many Quality departments: problem-solving ownership. Made up of cross-functional teams that measure their success only by their ability to improve defined quality scores, the CST structure is meant to eliminate the potential for a "not my fault" attitude.

Fiat 500 Sunroof Install

"It's about putting people in the right place to foster a problem-solving mentality," Betts said. "Quality must be a shared ownership and CSTs create that environment."

Each CST is comprised of 6 - 15 problem solvers with a variety of expertise. Chrysler has 14 CSTs, one for each vehicle system (engine, interior, wiring, etc) encompassing the range of Chrysler vehicles. These teams are empowered to improve customer satisfaction for their system or area. They measure their success only by how well they do that, without regard to the origin of the customer dissatisfaction.

Defining "Quality"

In the automobile industry, "quality" has been a broadly used term referring to many different aspects of customer satisfaction. At Chrysler, Quality has now been defined into six categories that may affect customer satisfaction: Ordinary, Dissatisfaction, Regulatory, Perceived, Performance and Service, both before and after the sale.

Fiat 500 Dashboard Install

“We now have a clear definition of quality and how to measure it,” Betts explained. “A big part of the customer’s definition of quality is reliability, but it’s also perceived quality and the way a customer is treated before and after the sale.”

To improve performance quality—how a vehicle stacks up against its competition—engineers now start a project by measuring approximately 320 physical characteristics of the best-in-class vehicles. Criteria such as acceleration, braking, handling, seat comfort, fuel economy and storage space are benchmarked. This establishes high standards so vehicles are designed and built to compete with the best.

Wiring the new Fiat 500

Chrysler Group also created the Perceived Quality (PQ) Team in recognition that many consumers form opinions the first time they see a vehicle, whether it’s at an auto show or in a neighbor’s driveway. The PQ team analyzes vehicles’ fit-and-finish, materials, ergonomics, and even the sound quality of moveable parts such as doors, seats and storage compartments. Much of the PQ evaluation is now done in the digital design phase, so product improvements can be made before any tooling invesments.

Fiat 500 Lounge

“Our comprehensive strategy to improve quality and customer satisfaction has prompted significant changes in how Chrysler Group develops, builds and sells cars,” Betts said. “Our ultimate goal is to make high quality vehicles that owners will be proud to recommend to their friends and family members.”

Sources: Fiat Group Press, Chrysler Media press release

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fiat 500 at the 2011 Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance

Last Sunday, Fiat was the honored marque at the annual Father's Day 2011 Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance car show. What a delightful way to spend Father's Day being surrounded by Fiats, Ferraris other Italian cars.

Fiat was there with the Fiat Mobile Experience, an elegantly styled mini café and Fiat merchandising store combined. Italian refreshments were served and you could sample the Fiat 500 on test drives through Beverly Hills.

Don't miss the next event the Fiat Mobile Experience will be at. I'll post it here and don't forget to visit Fiat USA's Facebook Page for updates.

Video and stills from TheMarkmueller YouTube Channel

Friday, June 17, 2011

Celebrate Father's Day with the Fiat 500 in Beverly Hills

Fiat 500 and Fiat 500c

If you are near Beverly Hills this Father's Day, make sure you stop by the Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance auto show. This annual Father's Day event is open to the public and will feature Fiat as their honored marque. Fiat will have a significant display of cars and their famous hospitality booth with cappuccino and espresso. Fiat 500s will also be available to test drive, so don't miss it!

Check out the Fiat USA press release for more details:

FIAT Brand Celebrates Italian Automotive Heritage at 2011 Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance

Fiat 500 with Barcode Decal

June 16, 2011 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - The FIAT brand celebrates its Italian heritage as the honored marque of this year’s Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance in Beverly Hills, Calif. The annual Father’s Day event will take place on Rodeo Drive on Sunday, June 19 and is free and open to the public.

As the event’s featured brand, FIAT will prominently showcase the 2012 Fiat 500, which is deeply rooted in iconic Italian design and style. FIAT will display 14 “Cinquecento” vehicles in all 14 exterior colors, as well as vintage vehicles such as an original Fiat 500. Consumers will be treated to test drives of the 2012 Fiat 500 and a gourmet coffee bar with cappuccino and espresso. Specially designed FIAT planters will bring added design elements and focus to the event.

Laura Soave with Fiat 500c

“FIAT is thrilled to be the honored marque at the 2011 Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance,” said Laura Soave, Head of FIAT Brand North America. “Rodeo Drive is a perfect location to feature the iconic Fiat 500, and we look forward to sharing our Italian heritage with car lovers in picturesque Beverly Hills.”

This year’s Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance will celebrate “The Art of Italian Motoring,”as the country of Italy marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. As part of the celebration, some of the most prestigious Italian designers and automakers will be prominently featured to an estimated 30,000 spectators from throughout Southern California.

Fiat 500 Party

“FIAT brand’s participation in the 2011 Rodeo Drive Concours promises to bring another level of excitement for our spectators as they will have exclusive access to the latest in Italian motoring,” said Bruce Meyer, Chairman of the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance. “This annual event is a Father’s Day tradition for thousands of southern California residents, car collectors and aficionados, and this year’s selection of world-class Italian entries promises to be one of the best.”

For more information about the FIAT brand and its vehicles, please visit

Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance website

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fiat 500 Real World Fuel Economy

Fun, lively, entertaining and engaging, the Fiat 500 embodies all of life's possibilities. It is what ever you want it to be: a sporty runabout, a weekend warrior or a practical companion.

Folks that are interested in fuel efficiency will be happy to hear the Fiat 500 has the highest fuel economy ratings in its class. The EPA rates the Fiat 500 as getting 30 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway with a combined average of 33 MPG. These figures, however, don't tell the whole story.

If desired, the efficient 1.4L MultiAir engine in the 500 can get even better fuel economy. Driven reasonably and using eco:Drive, Fiat's innovative software that monitors your driving and gives feedback on improving fuel efficiency, you may easily beat those figures.

In the video, our friend Shaun Folkerts documents his Prima Edizione's average fuel economy over 3,500 miles of driving. Shaun has averaged 43.8 MPG over this period and has exceeded the EPA average by nearly 10 MPG. It is not a fluke. Personally, I regularly average over 40 MPG on my rural back road commute.

You can read more real world fuel economy results on the Fiat 500 USA Forum: Fiat 500 Fuel Economy Forum.

With thanks to Shaun Folkerts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fiat Blue&Me US Compatibility Chart

Fiat USA has just posted a phone compatibility chart for their Blue&Me system. Blue&Me is the fully integrated in-vehicle infotainment system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls and control music and other functions using voice commands. It is standard on all 2012 Fiat 500 and 500c models.

Make sure you visit for the latest updates to this chart.

For your convenience, I've posted the latest list dated June 2, 2011:


Monday, June 13, 2011

Minier than MINI, Smarter than Smart

If you're a Fiat enthusiast in the US, you've heard of Shaun Folkerts. Shaun is the ultimate Fiat enthusiast, he owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 Fiat cars.

Housed in a warehouse dubbed the "Garagemahal", it is Mecca for Fiat connoseurs. There are excellent examples of nearly every Fiat sold in the US from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Shaun also bought the first new Fiat sold in the US since 1984.  Fiat 500 Prima Edizione number 11 was delivered at Criswell Fiat in Gaithersburg, Maryland back on March 10, 2011.

Now, to celebrate the arrival of Fiat back to the US, Shaun has come up with a line of swag that sports the slogan: Minier than MINI, Smarter than Smart. It is becoming the rage of Fiat enthusiasts here in the northeast, so Shaun is making it available to everyone accross the country.

While you are at his site, make sure you check out "Garagemahal" and see some of the classics Shaun has collected over the years. Some are even for sale!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Freak Out with the Fiat 500 in Nashville!

What does a new Fiat 500 owner do in July? They go to the Fiat FreakOut! The Fiat Freakout is the premier Fiat event of the year. Started in 1983, the FreakOut is the Fiat Lancia Unlimited car clubs national convention and is celebrating its 28th anniversary.

The 2011 Fiat FreakOut will be held July 21st through the 24th at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year's event will be memorable because it is the first year that Fiat has a new car in the US market for more than 28 years. This will be the largest gathering of Fiat 500s in the US and a great time for all to enjoy each others cars and camaraderie. New Fiat 500 owners can view outstanding examples of the older cars and see why they are cherished by enthusiasts from around the world.

Folks interested in learning what the Fiat 500 is all about will have the opportunity, because Fiat North America is once again the title sponsor this year and is expected to have a significant presence.

The four-day event includes an impressive concours car show, scenic drives through the beautiful Tennessee countryside, tours of Jack Daniels Distillery and Lane Auto Museum, parties, cookouts, Fiat related movies, a swap meet and vendor area, plus lots of time to meet people, look at cars and have a truly enjoyable time.

If you own a Fiat 500 or want to see what the excitement is about, you simply can not miss this event!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Let 500 Madness take your Fiat 500 to the next level!

If you own a Fiat 500 and look to take it to the next level, you have no doubt heard of 500 Madness. From mild to wild, 500 Madness has you covered. Owned and operated by Boris and Rachel Tilim, 500 Madness has worked around the clock to bring a wide range of products to Fiat 500 owners.

Boris and Rachel are well known in the custom and tuner car world from their other company, Smart Madness, the recognized leader in Smart car accessories. The Tilims were featured in the video "Fiat Prima Edizione Numbers" and were mentioned by Laura Soave at the New York Auto Show. They own Prima Edizione # 36 and recently took delivery of the first Fiat 500c in California. Keep an eye out for this car, because it will get the full wide-body treatment!

Below are just a few of the items and companies 500 Madness handles:

500 Madness offers the Magneti Marelli Ellaborazioni 1919 line of aftermarket accessories and has in stock the exclusive Magneti Marelli wheels that fit the Fiat 500. Magneti Marelli is well known to World Rally and Formula 1 enthusiasts and is the original supplier of many of the parts used on the 695 Abarth "Tributo Ferrari".

500 Madness was the first to distribute Borrani Wheels for the Fiat 500 in the US. Borrani is the premier wire wheel maker in the world and offer a sophisticated and elegent wheel line up for the Fiat 500.

They also handle the German company MS Design, producers of wheels, bodykits and accessories.

500 Madness is the North American Distributor of Black. The Italian company known for high quality, trendy, luxury accessories that are focused on giving prestige and charm to the FIAT 500. Black shift knobs, boots, pedals, headrests and accessories are manufactured in Italy and are a work of art!

Also stocked are:

Cold air intakes including ones made by Competizione Sport Tuning.

Brake upgrades, floor mats, window deflectors, tailights, springs, carbon fiber accessories and maintenance items are just some of what 500 Madness has. Follow the links below, you won't be disappointed!

To see more, visit the 500 Madness website here, and check out the 500 Madness forum here, and their Facebook page here.
Call them at 562-981-6800