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Friday, December 28, 2012

New Fiat 500S Announced

Fiat 500S

A new Fiat 500 model has just been introduced in Europe. Called the Fiat 500S, the new model is a trim package that borrows heavily from the North American market 500 Sport, using the front and rear facias of the NAFTA 500 Sport and its unique 16 inch alloy wheels with dark grey inserts. Additional trim upgrades are the racy, flat bottom steering wheel from the 500 Abarth, along with red stitching on the seats, steering wheel and shift boot and dark chrome finishes to the exterior bright work.

Fiat 500S

With the optional black painted roof, the new Fiat 500S looks decidedly similar to the Fiat 500 Prima Edizione cars that marked Fiat's return to North America. This similarity is enhanced with a dash panel that is finished in matte grey, just like the 500 Prima Edizione dash.

Fiat 500S rear view

The arrival of the new Fiat 500S signifies the European debut of the NAFTA 500 Sport's front and rear facias. These new "bumpers" were designed in Italy by Roberto Giolitto and his team at Fiat Centro Stile and were previously exclusive for NAFTA Fiat 500 Sports.


There will be nine body colors available: Ice White, Passion Red, Carrara White, Black Vesuvius, Pompeii Grey, Grey Coliseum, Mediterranean Blue, Matte Black Stealth and a three-layer white pearl.


The Fiat 500S will also be available in Cabrio form. There are four engine options: a 1.2L 69 HP 4 cylinder, a 0.9L TwinAir 85 HP 2 cylinder turbo, a 1.4L 16v 100 hp 4 cylinder and a 1.3L  MultiJet II diesel 16v four with 95 hp.


Prices of the Fiat 500S range from 13,750 euros for a car equipped with the 1.2 L engine and top out at 16,050 euro for the 1.3L MultiJet II version (the 500c Cabrios are, respectively, 17,250 euro and 19,550 euro).


Source: Fiat Group Auto

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fiat Big Finish Sale Going On!

Fiat 500 Pop


It has been a great year for Fiat, with year to date sales of the Fiat 500 up 123 percent over last year's. Through the efforts of a lot of hard work and aggressive advertising and marketing, the Fiat USA team has pulled off what many thought couldn't be done - marketing an A-segment car in the land of the huge. Now that the year is coming to an end, Fiat is pushing hard to finish off on a high note.

Fiat has put together year end incentive deals that make the Fiat 500 even more attractive. Called the Big Finish 2012, Fiat is offering incentives up to $2500 off certain Fiat 500 models. This is an addition to year end clearance deals going on at your local Fiat Studio. Folks, this is a seriously good time to buy a Fiat!

Go to the Fiat USA website for details and make sure you give the Fiat Studios listed below a call to see what deals they have going on.


Contact the following Fiat Studios for more details:

Criswell FIAT of Gaithersburg, Maryland - 1-888-878-2488

FIAT of Austin, Texas - 1-877-908-3428

Palmen FIAT of Kenosha, Wisconsin - 1-888-379-0295

Capitol FIAT of San Jose, California - 1-888-814-0969

Benson FIAT, South Carolina - 1-888-380-1716

Safford FIAT of Tysons Corners, Virginia - 1-888-716-2490

FIAT of Fredericksburg, Virginia - 1-888-904-4977

FIAT of Larchmont, New York - 1-888-405-2249


or go to the Fiat USA website here to find your nearest dealer.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nissan Takes a Swing at Fiat and Misses


There is no doubt that the new Fiat 500e clearly moves the look of the electric car forward. Easily the most attractive affordable electric vehicle (EV) out there, the Fiat 500e is gathering a lot of attention from EV fans who have been holding out for a stylish alternative to typical bland or unusual looking EV offerings.

The awkward appearance of many EVs throughout time has been at odds with consumer preferences for attractive cars. The Nissan Leaf is an example of an EV that is struggling with this issue, and now that the Fiat 500e is here, it seems Nissan is getting worried... and lashing out at Fiat.


Matt Davis, Head of Fiat Marketing, gives a brief introduction to the Fiat 500e and the Fiat 500L.

What's the Problem?
During a press briefing on the Fiat 500e in Auburn Hills just before the launch, Matt Davis, Head of Fiat Marketing, told the audience of reporters, "Let’s be honest, ugliness is probably one of the worst forms of pollution.”  He added, “The Fiat 500e proves that you do not have to give up on good looks to deliver an electric car.”1


In the Fiat launch video from the LA Auto Show, you can hear Olivier Francois' comments at the 9:00 minute mark.

Olivier Francois, Global Head of Fiat Brand, expanded upon this during the launch of the Fiat 500e at the LA Auto Show by saying:

"In our battle to combat pollution aren't we sometimes polluting the world even more? Yes, I'm afraid we are. When green becomes busy, shiny, blocky, bulky and even scratchy and even worst of all goofy. And let me ask you, isn't ugliness the worse form of pollution of all? Any company can produce something that is environmentally friendly, but it takes Fiat to deliver something that is environmentally sexy."

During the presentation, a few examples from decades past were shown to illustrate the point because Nissan isn't the only company that has run into this dilemma.


If The Shoe Fits
All this talk of attractiveness has touched a raw nerve at Nissan as they appear to have taken the comments personally. The head of Nissan global marketing communications, Simon Sproule, tried to give a sharp rebuke to Fiat in a recent interview told to Automotive News.2 Sproule came out swinging saying, "Let's face it, Fiat has not shied away from controversial styling themselves." Grasping at straws, Sproule continued that Fiat was guilty of their own visual pollution and pointed out Fiat's award winning Doblo Cargo Van (International Van of the Year 2011).

Fiat Doblo Cargo Van. International Van of the Year 2011.

While looks aren't usually the first thing on the mind of buyers of cargo vans, it is a serious consideration to those who buy cars. According to JD Powers, the Leaf's exterior styling is the biggest issue keeping consumers from buying the Leaf, whose YTD sales have dropped 16 percent to 6,791 units through October. The automaker says that the Leaf will not reach its sales target this year of 20,000 cars.1


A look at some of the significant cars Fiat SpA has been responsible for during the past 40 years. These award winning or trend setting designs have what many car manufacturers strive for in vain to achieve - soul and personality.

For Nissan to try to call out Fiat on design doesn't make a lot of sense and only brings attention to one of the Nissan Leaf's weakest attributes - its polarizing looks. Looking at design work even briefly, you will see Fiat SpA has more home runs on their side in the past, say forty years, than Nissan has in their entire 100 year history.

Vacation time for three people with luggage. Due to its intelligent use of space, the Fiat 500 has proven practical for over 1 million users.

Nissan's Sproule also took a swing at the Fiat 500e saying, unlike the Fiat 500e, the Leaf is a "fully functioning" car for families and daily use. This is another miss because he forgets the Fiat 500 fully functions for over one million people around the world.


Credibility and Commitment
In his parting shot, Sproule said "I don't think they have the credibility or the hardware to stand behind these kind of statements. Either you're committed to it or not." Even this remark doesn't hold water.

The fact is, the Fiat Brand is acknowledged as Europe's "Greenest" car company. For the past five years running, Fiat has recorded the lowest level of CO2 emissions by vehicles sold in Europe. Fiat has also been listed for the forth consecutive year in the Dow Jones Sustainability World and Europe indexes.




This commitment to being environmentally responsible stretches for decades. For example, the 1979 Fiat 147 was the first modern car to run on pure ethanol. Fiat produced the world’s first direct-injection diesel engine in 1987 and later invented Common Rail diesel car technology that is now used by leading manufacturers.3 Fiat also developed variable valve timing, patenting the system in 1970.4 Today, Fiat's MultiAir variable valve timing increases horsepower by 10 % while at the same time reducing  CO2 (-10%), particulate matter (-40%) and NOx (-60%) exhaust emissions. Fiat is also a leader in natural gas powered vehicles, producing over half a million cars between 1997 and now.5

1990 Fiat Panda Elettra

When it comes to EVs, Nissan doesn't have a monopoly on the technology. Automotive experts will remember the Fiat X1/23 electric city concept car of the 1970s. The experience from the X1/23 brought forth the 1990 Fiat Panda Elettra - which may very well be the first mass produced electric car by a major manufacturer, followed in 1996 by the Fiat Sicento Elettra (produced until 2005). Then there is the 2009 Fiat Palio Weekend, the first electric car produced in South America.


The new Fiat 500e promises to bring all the excitement and fun to drive characteristics that are typical in Italian cars to the EV market and do so at an affordable price.

Now with the new Fiat 500e, expect to see a car that has all the virtues of an EV, but with an emphasis on being fun. Besides the award winning styling and design providing a sense of ownership pride, the chassis benefits from being 10 percent stiffer than the gasoline 500 sedan. The improved chassis, along with a lower center of gravity, staggered wheel widths, improved aerodynamics and a unique drivetrain feature that allows the car to creep forward when you let off the gas at a stop light, enable the Fiat 500e to drive more like a car and not your typical EV. One more thing - sources tell me to expect the Fiat 500e to be priced competitively... very competitively. I think we now know why Nissan is worried...


Sources:
1 Fiat bets on 500e to challenge Nissan's Leaf

2 Nissan hits back at Fiat for criticism of Leaf styling

3 Fiat Group Press

4 Automotive Engineer Plus

5 Automotive Engineer Plus



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Team Rimicci Corse Fiat 500 Abarth Race Debut

Team Rimicci Corse Fiat 500 Abarth

Team Rimicci Corse's Fiat 500 Abarth made its racing debut at the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance race last week. The Fiat 500 Abarth driven by Johnny Kanavas finished the race despite a roll over that occurred during the practice session. This is a testament to the car's strength and the team's determination and is even more noteworthy because 25 Hours of Thunderhill is a tough race and is listed as the longest endurance run in the world.

Team Rimicci Corse and their Fiat 500 Abarth will be competing in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships Touring Car Class next year. We'll follow their progress here, so stick around!

Below is the press release with the details of last weeks race:

58th Place Never Felt So Good


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2012 (Northridge, Calif.) - After racing for 381 laps on track - and racing for a few hours in the back paddock - Rimicci Corse saw the no. 58 Fiat Abarth take the checkered flag at Sunday's USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill in Willows, California.

It was a long road to the finish for the team, taking part in the event for the first time. After a roll over on Thursday during practice, the team had the car repaired and ready for practice and qualifying on Friday. Kanavas would qualify the car in 54th position overall in the 70 car field.

The work was not done for the team once the green flag fell on Saturday at 11:00 AM. After Kanavas made up several positions at the start of the race, Rimicci would bring the car behind the wall with a failed clutch. The team would repair the car and get it back on track, and would work miracles throughout the night as the car would suffer other mechanical failures. However, with each part failure, the team would affect repairs and the little Abarth would return to the track.


Team Rimicci Corse Fiat 500 Abarth

"We brought the car to Thunderhill to put it through a real test," said Rimicci. "And we did! We learned a lot about our car and what we need to work on and improve for next season. The guys wouldn't quit and kept us in the race. Along with Brian Mezger, we had my dad, Santo Rimicci, and my cousin, Gianfranco Masdea as our crew, and of course my brother driving the car as well. Watching the car cross the finish line was one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced. I'm really thankful for everyone who supported us - our crew, friends, family, and the guys at King Electronics. I'm also really thankful my family didn't kill me after I rolled the car."

Nursing home a wounded car, Kanavas would take the checkered flag for the team, completing his eighth 25 Hours of Thunderhill. As the car rolled down pit lane at the end of the race, several teams applauded the car and the team for making it to the checkered flag. Throughout the weekend, the team was overwhelmed by the support it received from the teams, drivers, and officials of NASA.

"It was a very special moment to see that checkered flag," said Kanavas. "To take a car that rolled over in practice and finish a 25-hour race is truly an accomplishment to be proud of. The amount of work the crew and drivers had to put in was incredible. The car was never 100% from the beginning of the race, but when it was good it was extremely fun to drive, but I really went into really conservation mode to make it home. We had one goal and that was to finish this brutal race and despite many obstacles, we did it just that. I want to thank Rimicci Corse for the opportunity to work with such a fun and focused team that took the first Fiat 500 Abarth in America to its first 25-hour endurance finish."

Fabrizio Rimicci, taking part in his first 25 Hours of Thunderhill, was only able to get limited practice in the Abarth before getting in the car after darkness had fallen in the race.



"It was a little bit scary driving onto the track for the first time at night," said Rimicci. "I only had a few laps in practice but the light bar on the front of the car gave us really good visibility, and having Brian on our radio really helped with traffic and getting me up to speed. Even through all of the challenges the team had, it was an incredible experience and a great feeling to see our Abarth make it to the checkered."

For his part, Olivares - also a rookie in the 25 Hour - could barely believe his eyes when the Abarth took the checkered flag.

"The Italian team is just too stubborn to quit and that Abarth refused to die," said Olivares. "But as long as they were willing to keep working, we were going to keep driving. It was really inspiring to see them work for literally four days in a row to keep the car on track. The four of us in the car really wanted the car to make it to the end for their sake."

Rimicci Corse will make its debut with two Fiat Abarths in the Pirelli World Challenge on May 17-19, 2013 when the series visits the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Rimicci Corse
The Rimicci's are an Italian family who will compete in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships with Fiat 500 Abarths. For more information, visit rimiccicorse.com. facebook.com/rimiccicorse, and follow the team on twitter (@rimiccicorse).


King Electronics Company
King Electronics has been part of the automotive industry for the past 100 years, since the name was first established in October 1911 in Cleveland, Ohio. Now headquartered in Southern California, King Electronics has introduced the D16 and D16-T that are capable of performing full ignition system tests on any distributor-based automotive ignition system. King Electronics machines are currently used in auto shops across the United States, the European Union, Australia, and Africa. For more information, visit www.4king.com.

Rimicci Corse press release

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Look at the 2014 Fiat 500L


Here is a quick look at the two Fiat 500L models that were on display at the 2012 LA Auto Show. The cars shown were pre-production models and had a combination of US and Euro specifications so the public was not allowed inside the cars, however, we were able to get a few images of the interior that show some of the versatility of the 500L.


The US spec Fiat 500L features body colored front and rear bumpers replacing the Euro versions black covers. The 1.4L MultiAir turbo engine in the Fiat 500L is the same one used in the Fiat 500 Abarth and is rated at 160hp and 184 lbs.-ft of torque; giving the 500L the most power and torque in its class.


One of the concepts that helped shape the Fiat 500L was to make the car roomy and give the interior a light, airy ambiance. The Fiat 500L boasts the most front seat legroom and headroom in its class and meets EPA Large Car size interior standards.


A shot of the front anterior pillar. This design gives the Fiat 500L almost 360 degrees of all around visibility, contributing to the cars bright interior atmosphere. The pillars also contribute to the enormous structural strength of the Fiat 500L and helped the car achieve a 5 star crash rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests.


The LA Auto Show hosted the world debut of the Fiat 500L Trekking, a rugged urban-utility style vehicle.  Different front and rear fascias, fender flares, trim and wheels turn the 500L Trekking into a real head turner.  Talk is the 500L Trekking will not be at the top of the 500L price range, but more in the middle, so expect the 500L Trekking to make up a significant percentage of 500L sales.


The headlight of the Fiat 500L is a bi-halogen unit and incorporates a side marker light. In Europe, the car has an interesting “Cornering Light” feature. When the headlights are on low beam and the speed is below below 25 mph (40 km/h), if the steering wheel rotation angle is large or the direction indicators are on, a light (incorporated in the fog light) will switch on the appropriate side to improve visibility at night time. We'll see if that feature makes it to the US...


Another view of the Fiat 500L Trekking showing the 17x7 inch wheels and blacked out trim and fender/side skirts.



Besides having a lot of room for passengers, the Fiat 500L also has plenty of storage space for all the papers, pens and paraphernalia that typically accumulates inside a car. The dashboard sports two glove boxes and a package shelf.  The top glove box contains an A/C vent on some models.  Just the thing you need if you like to carry emergency chocolate in the summer!


Front seat armrest is shown along with the hand brake design, which is unique and doesn't take up much room. The center console has the obligatory cup holders front and rear.

The Fiat 500L was designed to be quite versatile.  The rear seats individually adjust for and aft as well as having an adjustable backrest angle. The seats fold forward in two stages.  The first is just the backrest. The second tilts the entire seat unit forward and makes for a very spacious cargo area.



Difficult to see here, but some versions of the Fiat 500L in Europe come with a rear load platform which can be adjusted to three different heights called "Cargo Magic Space", permitting a modular luggage compartment volume.


Much effort has been put into the Fiat 500L to offer cutting edge connectivity but with a user friendly interface. An example is the Uconnect 5.0 system with a five inch touchscreen that provides  handsfree calling and Bluetooth-streaming audio, as well as voice-command control of the radio and a media hub. An optional 6.5 inch touchscreen is also available.


A detail on the Fiat 500L Trekking is the brushed aluminum trim that gives the car a premium look.



The rear door opening on the Fiat 500L is wide to offer easier entrance and exit compared to the MINI Countryman.  The door panel also has a storage area for rear seat passengers.

The above touches on just a few preliminary details on the new Fiat 500L, which will be making its showroom debut in the summer of 2013.  Rest assured, we'll have more on the Fiat 500L going forward throughout the new year.  In the meantime, visit the Fiat 500L forum and join the discussion!


**********************************

I would like to thank Mark Bisaha, one of the members of the Fiat 500 USA Forum for sharing these images with us.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fiat 500 Abarth Topless Ad!

Catrinel Menghia and Scorpion

During the LA Auto Show, Fiat USA treated the press to a sneak peek at a new Fiat 500c Abarth video featuring Catrinel Menghia, the gorgeous woman in the award winning Fiat 500 Abarth Seduction commercial. The new video has the beautiful Menghia sunbathing on a beach and gets visited by a friend. Could this video wind up on TV? Watch it and you decide!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fiat Into the Green Experience

Fiat 500e Into the Green Event

With the introduction of the Fiat 500e all electric vehicle, Fiat is showcasing the brand's commitment to protecting the environment. For the past five years running, the Fiat brand has been recognized as having recorded the lowest level of CO2 emissions by vehicles sold in Europe.



Additionally, Fiat S.p.A. has been included in Dow Jones Sustainability World and Europe indexes for the fourth consecutive year with a score of 91/100 compared to an industry standard of 74/100. This is a prestigious award because membership is limited to companies judged best-in-class in terms of their economic, as well as environmental and social performance. The only other Automobile sector companies admitted to the DJSI World for 2012/2013 were BMW and Volkswagen. For DJSI Europe, only Fiat and BMW were admitted. These two are just the latest acknowledgements in Fiat's record stretching back over 110 years of producing innovative and socially responsible cars.

Fiat 500e

To drive awareness of being environmentally conscious, Fiat is introducing the "Into the Green" VIP event tour. The program, to be held at some of the more glamorous red carpet events throughout the world, will introduce celebrities and attendees to Fiat's own brand of being environmentally responsible while enjoying all the style and panache that is expected in an Italian car.

The first "Into the Green" event kicked off last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and was attended by many well known media celebrities. The Fiat 500, already a favorite with the Hollywood elite, won even more admirers with the electric 500e version.

Fiat 500e Interior

Fiat USA is now giving fans the opportunity to win a trip to one of these gala "Into the Green" events. From now until March 15, Fiat fans can go to Fiat's "Into the Green" Facebook Page here and register. Folks visiting the L.A. Auto Show (11/30/12 and 12/9/12) or San Diego Auto Show (12/27/12 and 12/30/12) can also enter to win at the Fiat booth.

There are three events and three chances to win! Register during the following periods
  • Drawing period 1: Nov. 30 - Dec. 21
  • Drawing period 2: Dec. 22 - Feb. 1
  • Drawing period 3: Feb. 2 - Mar. 15

Prizes include:
  • Round trip airfare for two
  • Three day/two night hotel stay
  • Admittance into exclusive VIP events
  • An “up close and personal experience” with the FIAT 500e on site at the event
  • $500 spending cash
  • $100 worth of FIAT swag


Source: Fiat USA

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fiat 500 November Sales Up 123 Percent

Fiat 500c Cabrio USA version
2013 Fiat 500c Cabrio

The Fiat 500 continues to break sales records! Sales of the Fiat 500 for the month of November were 3,603, up 123 percent over last year's November sales of 1,618 units. This is the ninth-consecutive month this year in which the Fiat 500 has set a sales record.

These figures are even more impressive considering the east coast of the United States was still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. The largest Atlantic hurricane on record devastated key Fiat sales markets, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and North Eastern region of the United States. Dealers also report a shortage of the popular Fiat 500c Cabrios in the South East sales area as Fiat scrambles to keep up with the demand.

US Fiat 500L
2014 Fiat 500L North American model

November sales figures brings the total year to date number of Fiat 500s sold in the US in 2012 to 40,065, maintaining the 130 percent sales increase over last year's YTD total of 17,444.

In November, Fiat celebrated selling their millionth Fiat 500 worldwide since its launch in 2007. The Fiat 500 is manufactured in Tychy, Poland and Toluca, Mexico and sold in over 100 countries.

Also in November, we saw the exciting previews of the Fiat 500e all electric vehicle, the roomy 5 seater Fiat 500L multi-purpose vehicle and the high performance Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio. These new models will make their way into Fiat Studios in the first and second quarter of 2013.


Fiat 500Current MonthLast YearVol ChangeCurrent YTD TotalLast Year YTD TotalVol Change
November
2012
3,6031,618123%40,06517,444130%
October
2012
3,7201,96589%36,46215,826130%
September
2012
4,1762,77351%32,74213,861136%
August
2012
4,1503,10634%28,56611,088158%
July
2012
3,7103,03822%24,4167,982206%
June
2012
4,0041,803122%20,7064,944319%
May
2012
4,0031,759128%16,7023,141432%
April 20123,849882336%12,6991,382819%
March 20123,712500642%8,8505001670%
February
2012
3,2270New5,1380New
January
2012
1,9110New1,9110New

Related:





Source: Fiat USA