Monday, Fiat confirmed its intention to install the latest version of one of its three main vehicle architectures at its Mirafiori plant in Torino, Italy. Outfitting the factory will begin in 2012 and production of the first nameplate, a Jeep SUV, is expected in the second half of 2013. This Jeep model may also be built and sold in the US.
The Panda Cross has a reputation for being a seriously rugged go anywhere vehicle. Fiat's experience in applying four wheel drive to small packages will fit well with Jeep's expertise.
The architecture being installed is called the SUSW (Small US Wide) and is a widened and US-compliant platform based on the one used by the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo MiTo models. The revised chassis will have 4 wheel drive capability.
This platform will make its debut with the Fiat Ellezero that will be produced in Serbia next year. Talk is this car is coming to American Fiat Studios in 2013.
Information on the Fiat Ellezero has been kept tightly under wraps, but it appears to be a 4 door, MPV style vehicle with styling related to the Fiat 500. Produced in both 5 and 7 passenger versions, this B segment vehicle's length is approximately 161 - 169 inches compared to 139 inches for the Fiat 500. The European version is expected to have the TwinAir Turbo.
Test mules are running around Europe at this time so we should expect to see some spy shots in the near future.
*Quattrororuote magazine image