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#1 of 92 Chrysler and Fiat - Italian-American Flavor?
Feb 16, 2007 (8:40 am)
OK, the German-American relationship (i.e. DaimlerChrysler) isn't going well and thoughts of filing divorce papers is surfacing (or already in the process).
The rumor-mill is running amok of a possible French/Japanese/American (i.e. Renault/Nissan/Chrysler) menage-a-trois or even a Chinese-American (i.e. Chery Motors/Chrysler) partnership.
Bah, I say it's all a soap-opera re-run. Therefore, I say it's time for some Italian passion and a tie-up with the Fiat Group shouldn't be ignored. And please, don't bring up the old "Fix It Again Tony" jokes about the reputation of Fiat cars of yore.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time a Chrysler-Fiat partnership has been considered. Back in 1988, Lee Iaccoca and then Fiat Chairman Giovanni Agnelli, were longtime friends (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3165/is_n11_v24/ai_6829756).
So, why look at this relationship again? Here are my observations:
- Style/Design -
Personally, I find Chrysler vehicle styling and design to be between average and boring. Not a good position to be in when even the likes of Honda of America are finally spicing things up (e.g. new Civic and forthcoming new Accord).
If you take a look at the new Fiat Bravo and the recently introduced new Grand Punto, styled by Giugiaro, these are cars that have a 21st century look, enhancing "drivability" which should appeal to all demographics and most importantly, women who are image conscious and have a disposable income.
Oh, and let's not forget that Alfa Romeo is part of the Fiat Auto Group. Therefore, Chrysler-Fiat could offer vehicles to BMW/Audi/Mercedes-Benz buyers too.
Go to http://www.fiat.com to see Bravo and Grand Punto.
- Technology -
Fiat's core competency is making small, stylish and economical cars. Something that America is, finally, beginning to accept again. And more than likely will continue for the foreseeable future.
The Fiat engine line-up includes everything from economical to high-performance. Indeed, Fiat's MultiJet (sulfur-free) diesel engines are on par with the Germans and most are very fuel-efficient.
- Safety and Reliability -
The equivalent of NHTSA testing is Euro NCAP and Fiat's latest range of cars get the highest ratings possible.
As to reliability, well, it's certainly better than the "Fix It Again Tony" days, and the most recent cars have had good reliability ratings thus far. Still, this is where Chrysler, with it's ten year association with co-German engineering experience, can benefit the relationship.
- Positioning -
I think certain domestic models (e.g. SUVs, trucks, vans) should be emphasized with the Dodge and Jeep brands and Chrysler take on compact and sub-compact Fiat based cars like the Grand Punto and the Bravo.
And yes, bring back Alfa Romeo with readily available Chrysler/Dodge dealerships.
So, a Chrysler "Soprano" anyone?
Comments welcome of course.
#2 of 92 Chrysler and Fiat
Feb 16, 2007 (11:31 am)
I imagine Fiat is running some numbers on such a combination. Among other considerations, Fiat will need a dance partner sooner or later, and Chrysler could provide an entree into the North American market. On the other hand, the negatives of such a combination, for Chrysler and Fiat alike, are numerous.
Feb 16, 2007 (11:54 am)
Thanks for the reply, HPMCTORQUE.
Agreed. I've only done a "scribbles on a napkin" approach to this idea and admit there is still a great amount of due diligence required to see if this partnership is even possible.
From a technology perspective, I'm not sure if Fiat cars, like the Grand Punto or new Bravo, are engineered to be "global platform" vehicles. I certainly hope they can be.
If you've had the opportunity to look at the afore mentioned cars, and were in the market to buy a compact/sub-compact, would you consider looking at one? And if so, what would you compare it with?
#4 of 92 You need to Google ARDONA...
Feb 16, 2007 (3:11 pm)
"And yes, bring back Alfa Romeo with readily available Chrysler/Dodge dealerships." Um... no.
Alfa entered into a distribution agreement with Chrysler back in the '80s called ARDONA that did exactly that - sold Alfas in Chrysler dealerships. Given that you can no longer buy an Alfa in the US I'll let you imagine how well it worked.
#5 of 92 Re: You need to Google ARDONA... [jaserb]
Feb 16, 2007 (3:19 pm)
In hindsight, I think you're right, Jason. It hadn't and wouldn't work.
In any case, there are established plans to sell Alfa Romeo through the existing Masarati dealerships. If it ever happens.
#6 of 92 Considerations (yipyipyipee)
Feb 17, 2007 (5:53 am)
"If you've had the opportunity to look at the afore mentioned cars, and were in the market to buy a compact/sub-compact, would you consider looking at one? And if so, what would you compare it with?"
Yes, I'd consider them, since I'm familiar with Fiats. They're fun to drive, and I think that now that they've got to compete with Toyota and others, their quality has improved significantly.
I'd compare them with VW golf/Rabbits and Jettas, Focuses, Astras, etc.
Feb 17, 2007 (6:02 am)
A three way merger between Fiat, Peugeot, and Chrysler might make strategic sense in terms of scale, and reintroducing Fiat and Peugeot (which also owns Citroen) products in the North American market. Such a combination would be a huge challenge in terms of execution, however.
#8 of 92 Re: Chrysler and Fiat - Italian-American Flavor? [yipyipyipee]
Feb 17, 2007 (11:19 am)
And please, don't bring up the old "Fix It Again Tony" jokes about the reputation of Fiat cars of yore.
Rats there goes all my fun.
But in reality I think it could benefit Fiat as it would give them entry into the North American market again. But for Chrysler I think it would be a mistake to merge with a make that hasn't been in North America for decades. If Fiat had a good presence in NA then I would say it would work, but since they don't Chrysler would have to be crazy to even consider it.
#9 of 92 Re: Considerations (yipyipyipee) [hpmctorque]
Feb 19, 2007 (6:16 am)
"Yes, I'd consider them, since I'm familiar with Fiats. They're fun to drive, and I think that now that they've got to compete with Toyota and others, their quality has improved significantly."
I assume that by you saying you're familiar with Fiats, you've driven the more recent products in Europe or elsewhere? If so, which one(s)?
Personally, I drove a Grand Punto, although it was powered by the 1.2L engine. Great around town, but get it out on the highway and you really had to be careful about overtaking traffic.
I'd compare them with VW golf/Rabbits and Jettas, Focuses, Astras, etc."
Yes, I'd agree with you there. In terms of fit, finish and preceived quality, pretty much on par with what else is available in the class.
#10 of 92 Re: 3 Way Merger [hpmctorque]
Feb 19, 2007 (6:29 am)
Yes, that would be a challenge to execute. And it would be great to introduce some of the cars in the Peugeot/Citroen stable to the U.S.
However, I'm concerned the French designed products would be culturally or even functionally challenging to the U.S. market.