The bumper of a Fiat 500
The bumper of a Fiat 500 - 
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Steve Chiotakis: We're just a couple of days away from a government-imposed Chrysler deadline. They have to get their financial house in order -- a hook-up with Fiat or Uncle Sam stops the gravy train. For a partnership with Fiat, Chrysler will get access to the Italian automaker's small car technology. But what does Fiat get? Here's Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson.

Jeremy Hobson: Fiat's been absent from the U.S. since the 90's. Nobody wanted to buy their cars. But, says Dave Sedgwick of Automotive News:

Dave Sedgwick: These days, they're making cars that are much more stylish and a much higher quality.

To sell those cars in the U.S., though, Fiat needs a dealer network. And that's what Chrysler would give them.

Lou Lataif is the former President of Ford's European Operations:

Lou Lataif: Fiat now primarily is a European player and primarily an Italian player.

Lataif's now the dean of Boston University's School of Management. Whether Fiat sells its own cars here or slaps a Chrysler logo on them first, he says the nationwide network is what's important.

Lataif: Long-term, most global auto manufacturers want a presence in North America, because this is the largest single automotive market in the world at this point.

But don't expect Fiat fever to hit the U.S. right away. Dave Sedgwick says it could take two years for the company to get its products into Chrysler showrooms.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson