Fiat can fire up fuel-efficient sales

John Dimsdale May 4, 2009
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Fiat can fire up fuel-efficient sales

John Dimsdale May 4, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: Fiat’s CEO is in Berlin today to talk with the German government
about taking over General Motors’ Opel unit there. That prospect has prompted some groans among employees. Sergio Marchionne was to meet with the country’s Economic and Foreign Ministers. GM’s European operations employ about 25,000 people at four plants throughout Deustcheland.

Of course, Fiat’s already got its hands full with Chrysler here in this country. And now that that marriage has taken place, what kind of kids will result? As in what kind of cars and trucks will this new company offer Americans? The standard line is: “Better and more fuel-efficient vehicles.” Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports on whether car buyers will bite.


John Dimsdale: Before Fiat abandoned the U.S. in the early 1980’s, it went after the early market for saving money at the gas pump.

Fiat Commercial: Strata combines the best gas mileage of any compact car in America.

Fuel efficiency is fashionable again, so expect smaller Chryslers that look like, among other models, the Mini Cooper-sized Fiat 500. Chrysler is known for stodgier suburban minivans, and could also use another type of fashion.

Roger Hart: That whole Italian thing is unique.

Roger Hart, the managing editor for AutoWeek in Detroit, says Chrysler needs a more sporty image.

Hart: Part of this mix we would hope would also be the line-up from Alfa Romeo, which had also talked about coming into the U.S. market even before this hook-up with Fiat and Chrysler.

Analysts say Fiat’s sportier cars will aim at a more urban customer. And that would mean moving Chysler dealerships from the suburbs to the city.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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