Geneva Motor Show-goers will be the first to see tangible evidence of the fast-expanding relationship between Italy’s Fiat and its U.S. partner, Chrysler, when the pair lift the covers on the all-new Fiat Freemont, early next month.
Make that more-or-less new. While the Freemont nameplate is an addition to Fiat’s European line-up, the crossover is familiar to American motorists under the Dodge Journey nameplate. Both models will be produced at Chrysler’s plant in Toluca, Mexico.
The addition of the Journey is a critical next step in the evolution of the relationship between the U.S. maker and Fiat, which stepped in to help pull Chrysler out of bankruptcy, in 2009. Significantly, the White house laid out a series of targets that Fiat must meet to bring its initial 20% stake in Chrysler up to as much as 51%. That includes introducing high-mileage models in the U.S., as well as expanding the American maker’s traditionally insignificant presence abroad.
The Geneva Motor Show will witness a number of moves designed to meet that last requirement. A variety of Chrysler-based models will debut there, including a revised 2011 version of the maker’s minivan, a new flagship sedan for Fiat’ upscale Lancia brand, and the more mainstream Fiat Freemont.