The new Fiat/Chrysler alliance may already be paying dividends for US consumers with the 2010 Fiat 500, due to go on sale there later this year, the first in the world to receive the brand’s “new and superior” Fiat Panda platform.
Fiat will begin building its new 500 in Mexico later this year, though it is not yet clear if the traditional European-American product exchange will be reversed.
Fiat recently invested US$550 million to upgrade the Toluca, Mexico plant which is capable of producing between 100,000 and 130,000 units annually, 95 per cent of which will be exported.
It is understood the plant was selected to adopt the new platform as it had not yet been fitted with the existing model’s tooling infrastructure.
The new platform is said to improve the structural integrity of the Fiat 500 – vital for crash testing – while also reducing noise and weight. It is also rumoured that the new 500 may, in the US at least, revert to its Italian ‘Cinquecento’ (the Italian word for 500) nomenclature to avoid confusion between the upcoming, larger 300 model (replacement for the 300C).
(with Inside Line)