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Chrysler's newest Euro fling, Fiat?

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  January 21, 2009 04:40 PM

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Fiat-Chrysler photo illustration(Photo Illustration/Boston.com)

Keeping track of Chrysler management is like naming all the countries Angelina Jolie plucks children from. There's far too many, and some, like Cerberus Capital Management LP, you won't remember to spell correctly.

Daimler AG's divorce with Chrysler LLC is almost final as the German automaker prepares to sell its remaining 19.9 percent share to Cerberus. At the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, Chrysler pulled the bright yellow Dodge EV out of nowhere, a feat that turned lukewarm when the all-electric sports car was cited as a Lotus Europa clone (Dodge reportedly is in talks with Lotus to build the car in England within two years).

Fiat, apparently, is Chrysler's latest European salvation. The Italian auto giant - which owns Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Abarth - will receive a 35 percent Chrysler stake for access to its "small-car technology" and a dealer network that spans Russia, China, and South America, the Associated Press reports.

It's not the first time Chrysler has tried Italian. Three years after the first Caravan and five before Bob Lutz breathed life into the Viper, the company bought Lamborghini in 1987 and funneled millions of dollars into the Diablo, which would become the darling exotic of the 1990s. Chrysler sold it in 1993 for about $40 million.

Could there be a Chrysler version of the venerable Fiat 500? Or a Hemi-powered variant of the compact four-door Alfa Romeo 159? Perhaps the biggest question is: who in Argentina wants to buy a Chrysler Sebring?

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16 comments so far...
  1. No one in America wants to by a Chrysler vehicles, so I doubt anyone in another country wants a cool looking-but-crappy car.

    Posted by quattro January 21, 09 09:15 PM
  1. They may not want a Sebring, but I bet the PT Cruiser could be HUGE in the countries listed. Not to mention Jeeps.

    Posted by Rantipole January 22, 09 09:19 AM
  1. Let's see here.............. the worst of the US cars joining forces with the worst of the European passenger cars (excluding the exotics). If it could incorporate Lucas electrics you'd have at best a YUGO.

    Who knows with the PT Cruiser, they can't give them away here.

    Posted by politeyankee January 22, 09 10:33 AM
  1. What's with Chrysler? They seek to improve their world market so they look to ally themselves to the group with the worst reputation for reliability, quality and customer service in Europe????

    Short of a collective jumping off a cliff, I can't think of a surer way of commercial suicide.

    Posted by newfromeurope January 22, 09 11:35 AM
  1. I was hoping for Hyundai/Kia to buy Chrysler--they are build good stuff these days.
    Chrysler is building garbage--see Dodge Caliber, Jeep Commander, Dodge Stratus. I rent all the time, and I cringe when I see them lined up.

    Posted by Nash Rambler forever January 22, 09 12:21 PM
  1. Fix It Again, Tony

    Posted by J January 22, 09 12:44 PM
  1. I could see the new Fiat 500 become a new Neon. The 500 is a great bang for the buck, the materials are amazing and reliability in the brand has bettered ove the years. Not faultless but not the hot-mess it used to be.

    Nobody want's a Chrysler?! Really? I see a ton of Chargers and 300's on the road. And even though the Sebring is having problems, those are selling too. Guess you got to have a dealership in the right part of the state to make a comission.

    By the way, I'm loving my Chrysler Crossfire albiet a Benz in Chrysler clothing.

    Posted by Andrew January 22, 09 01:42 PM
  1. A lot of chrysler vehicles are already sold in Europe. A lot of the Jeep line up is already there including the Wrangler, Grand Chrokee and Liberty, where it is still called the Cherokee(as it should be). Also the caravans, 300's, and a few others are on the road there. And the PT Cruiser is dead after this year. Finally. Unfortunately people still remember Fiat from the 80's presence in the US when they were, umm, less then reliable. Fiat is a major powerhouse in Europe and has evolved, while most US manufacturers are spinning their underinflated wheels.

    Posted by boss8120 January 22, 09 03:00 PM
  1. First order of business....get the 500 over to the US

    Posted by AC January 22, 09 05:57 PM
  1. Fiat builds very good cars nowaday's. I own a Fiat Bravo. The quality is flawless and the engine is just amazing.

    Posted by Meijning January 23, 09 06:29 AM
  1. Kia/Hyundai building good cars? yeah maybe they might be a little bit better but try trading them and see how much YOU owe the dealer to take it. I work at a car dealership and theres nothing we hate more than a kia or hyundai because people usually owe 3 times what the crappers are worth.

    Posted by kyle January 23, 09 05:08 PM
  1. we own an 04 pacifica, an 08 avenger and an 01 dodge 2500 cummins, we used to buy ford but switched to mopar because of price and poor ford quality. we have been rewarded with 3 very stylish, low cost of ownership vehicles that have great dealer support.

    Posted by frank pratt January 24, 09 05:49 PM
  1. i have worked in the oil industry for 21 years in alberta canada this is truck country . these roads are hard on a trucks the ford and chevy /gm do not stand up
    i have drove them all . the dodge is the best . they may not have as smoothest ride compared to the ford or chev but when all my coworkers have there trucks in once every month for repaires and my dodge goes in once a year there is something to say about this .when thattruck is not on the road i loose money .
    not to mention they are the nicest looking trucks on the road and toughest .you cant beat a cummings .and there cars my wife has aa 300 i get 30mtg with this luxery car

    Posted by terry January 24, 09 10:08 PM
  1. Kyle--I'm not talking about the older models that (agreed) aren't worth much. I'm saying the new cars they are building are way ahead of where they were, and where Chrysler is. Take a look at a Kia Rondo--Ugly, but it is practical as heck. I'd take a Kia Amanti sedan over a Sebring any day. Chrysler's bread and butter, the small and mid-sized sedans, minivans and SUV's just don't match up to the competition. Now, they seem to have something with the new truck, and with the drop in gas price, maybe they can sell.

    Ask yourself this: would you buy a Dodge Journey over a Ford Edge? A Caliber over a Pontiac Vibe? A Caravan over an Odyssey? A Stratus over an Altima? Only at a huge discount.

    Posted by Nash Rambler Forever January 26, 09 09:46 AM
  1. Unfortunately Chryler has no idea how to market themsleves. Their main products,(Mini-Van, Ram, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, and 300) provide more value and have better quality ratings over the past 12 months than the major competitors. The company is now being managed by established business people. We're talking about management from General Electric, The Home Depot and Toyota Motor Company. Cerberus, the financial backers of Chrysler have done a fine job at restructuring and laying the foundation, now it's up the American public and the dealer network to keep the heritage alive.

    Posted by flyingnatter January 26, 09 04:00 PM
  1. I have a fiat 500 1968 in boston imported from Italy, it's two cylinder 60 miles to gallon. very cute and small car-about 12 inches smaller than smart car!. It is fun to drive/park and overall brings back good memories. I hope Chrisler imports them here or makes little car like it.

    Posted by ahmed March 2, 09 11:52 AM
 

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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