Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘fiat 500 abarth’

Chrysler SEMA Concepts Hint at Niche Products to Come

Mopar generating double-digit growth for maker.

by on Oct.24, 2014

The Dodge Challenger T/A concept is a 485-horsepower beast that the maker is displaying at the SEMA show.

It’s a beautiful autumn morning as Mark Trostle leads a group of journalists out to the design department courtyard behind the Chrysler Technology Center.  “It’s like Candyland out here,” says the chief designer for Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Mopar division, as he surveys an assortment of concept vehicles that will soon head to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA Show.

That’s the yearly gathering of the automotive parts and accessories world, a fast-growing industry that generates more than $30 billion in business annually. Not surprisingly, makers like Fiat Chrysler have been increasing their presence at SEMA each year hoping not only to put a halo around their brands, but also to help sell more of their own parts and accessories.

The Last Word!

Mopar, in fact, has been generating double-digit growth in recent years, in part by coming up with striking concept vehicles that illustrate ways to use products from its own parts catalogue. But it’s also going to be showing several special concepts that could soon be put, in whole, into production by various Fiat Chrysler brands. (more…)

First Look: 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo

Bumps power by 34%.

by on Aug.17, 2012

The Fiat 500 line-up expands yet again with the 2013 addition of the new Turbo model.

For those who want better performance – without the price tag of the top-line Abarth edition – Fiat is adding a new turbocharged version of its little 500 model.

The new addition to the maker’s fast-growing line-up is making its debut in Monterey, California, this weekend, at the Concorso Italiano, one of the largest gatherings of Italian vehicles in North America.

Fiat launched its return to the U.S. market in late 2010 but got off to a slow start with the original 500 coupe and cabriolet.  Sales began to take off earlier this year with the debut of the Fiat 500 Abarth, a high-performance version backed by a sexy ad campaign.  At this point, the maker has run out of Abarths until production of the 2013 model begins.

Your Inside Source!

The new 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo targets those who don’t want something quite so extreme.  It features a 135-horsepower version of the maker’s MultiAir four-cylinder engine, as well as sportier suspension tuning and what Fiat bills as “track-proven” brakes.  The interior is upgraded and there are modest exterior enhancements over the base 500, as well.


Fiat Halts Orders for New 500 Abarth

Demand for performance model outstripping supply.

by on Jun.05, 2012

Fiat officials halted dealer orders for the 2012 500 Abarth though some dealers still have a few in stock.

Barely a month after launching sales of the new Fiat 500 Abarth the maker has told dealers it will no longer be able to supply orders for the rest of the 2012 model-year.

The high-performance version of what Italians call the Cinquecento has helped kick-start demand after a rough launch for the Fiat brand – which led to the ouster of the marque’s original marketing chief.  But sales have surged in recent months, buoyed by more aggressive marketing and the launch of the new Abarth edition.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

“The Fiat 500 Abarth is unstoppable,” Fiat brand boss Tim Kuniskis said in a statement.  “Dealer orders for the Abarth dramatically exceeded the number of units we had scheduled for production. We had to schedule additional production to try and keep up with the demand. Most Abarth units are sold within one day.”


Brands, Not Cars, Key Contends Fiat/Chrysler Exec

Have we heard this song before?

by on Mar.15, 2012

Fiat global brand chief Olivier Francois during the launch of the new 500L.

The idea that a car sells the brand doesn’t apply in the expansive world of Olivier Francois, Chrysler/Fiat’s chief marketing officer.

It’s the brand and its message that ultimately sells the car, Francois told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. A lot of companies use cars to sell the brand but Francois has deliberately reversed the equation.

“The brand had better stand for something,” explained the French-born executive, noting he uses the exact same formula in Europe where he is in charge of the Fiat and Lancia marques.

Stay Connected!

Francois also stressed that timing is critical. Chrysler’s celebrated Eminem ad, which was shown during the Super Bowl in February,2011, would not have worked a year earlier because there wasn’t any solid evidence yet of a Chrysler comeback. A year later it would have been considered “old news,” he added.


Fiat 500 America: Not for America

Red, white and European.

by on Mar.08, 2012

America, America...? Fiat's starts-and-stripes edition will be limited to the European market.

Want to show your colors?  Fiat is waving the flag, but there’s just one catch: the red, white and blue Fiat 500 America edition won’t be sold in the U.S.

The Italian maker apparently wants to make the rest of the world, especially buyers in its home base of Europe, well aware that it’s returned to the States for the first time in two decades with the popular model folks on the Continent know as the Cinquecento.

News from Geneva!

To introduce the 500 America, the maker opened its Geneva Motor Show news conference with the widely watched, albeit controversial, Clint Eastwood ad that first aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Considering Europe’s worsening financial situation, the message of the 2-minute spot, dubbed “Halftime in America,” was clearly not lost on the crowd.


Can “Bad Boy” Charlie Sheen – and High-Performance Abarth Finally Sell Fiat?

“House Arrest” spot part of racy shift for Italian maker after disastrous debut.

by on Mar.05, 2012

Supermodel Catrinel Menghia poses with a Fiat 500 Abarth during the car's media drive in Las Vegas.

It may be small, but one thing the Fiat 500 has is a lot of attitude – all the more so since the Italian maker introduced the sporty new Abarth edition.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that what the marque’s global brand boss calls the “bad boy of the Fiat line-up” should turn to the bad boy of the entertainment world, Charlie Sheen, to draw some attention.

The spot, which was pulled at the last minute from the Super Bowl, gave Fiat officials some “sleepless nights,” a senior official admits, but after a delayed launch has been generating plenty of buzz from a brand that had barely registered on most consumers’ radar until recently.

Fiat got off to a nearly disastrous debut little more than a year ago, sales for all of 2011 coming in at barely half the initial forecast – leading Fiat to oust its U.S. marketing chief.

Be in the Know!

Since then, the maker has ramped up its marketing efforts, first with a series of controversial Jennifer Lopez commercials, following up with supermodel Catrinel Menghia’s racy “Seduction” spot first aired during the Super Bowl.

Now comes Sheen, shown racing the Fiat 500 Abarth inside his mansion during a party – the “tiger blood” actor explaining how much fun he is having while under “house arrest.”


First Drive: Fiat 500 Abarth

Why did we have to wait so long?

by on Mar.05, 2012

The Fiat 500 Abarth delivers subtle visual tweaks -- and a 60% boost in power.

You can’t sell a young man an old man’s car, goes the old automotive marketing adage.  And, the conventional wisdom goes, it’s tough to sell a guy a “secretary’s car.” Now, we’ve got nothing against secretaries, but the term usually applies to products that are more show than go.  And, arguably, that applied to the Fiat 500 hatchback that rolled into U.S. showrooms a year ago.

The Italian automaker is quick to note that it’s already sold over 500,000 of the 3-door microcars outside the U.S., but demand in the States has been sorely lagging behind expectations, and the anemic little 101-horsepower engine is likely one reason why.  But perhaps things are about to change.

Subscribe Now! Free!

With the help of supermodel Catrinel Menghia and “bad boy” actor Charlie Sheen, Fiat is staging a high-amp launch for the new Fiat 500 Abarth.  With its taut suspension, 160-horsepower engine – and subtle styling tweaks that give it a bit of its own bad-boy look, the Abarth is the machina the Italian automaker should have brought State-side from the start.


Fiat Releases First Images of 500L

Debut set for Geneva, U.S. sales to launch in 2013.

by on Feb.03, 2012

Fiat reveals the new 500L before its official Geneva Motor Show preview.

Following up on a report in earlier in the week, Fiat has confirmed it will unveil a larger version of its pint-sized Cinquecento at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

To be called the Fiat 500L, the 5-door hatchback will arrive in U.S. dealer showrooms in 2013, the maker confirmed.  The American version will be offered only in a 5-seat configuration, but buyers in Europe and other parts of the world will be able to order the new 500L in a 7-seat layout, as well.

Your Auto Source!

Short for “Large,” the 500L will still be one of the smallest models on U.S. roads, measuring just over 163 inches, nose-to-tail.  That’s about 2.5 inches more than the current Fiat 500 Coupe. And it still lands the new offering squarely into the B-, or minicar, category.


New Product Should Help Fiat Overcome Initial Setbacks

J.Lo campaign paid off despite controversy, Fiat officials insist.

by on Jan.19, 2012

JLo's ads for Fiat took plenty of criticism - but increased brand awareness substantially.

There’s an old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  Just spell the name right.  That might be a matter of debate if you’re running for president, but it appears to be a valid contention for Fiat, which has been struggling to build momentum for its return to the U.S. market after a two decade absence.

Despite the controversy over the maker’s first national TV ads, featuring Jennifer Lopez, Fiat officials insist the campaign paid off, helping build awareness among potential buyers just as the Italian brand is preparing to roll out an assortment of new products.

News You Can Use!

The line-up has been limited to variations of the initial Fiat 500 minicar – the performance-oriented Abarth edition set to hit showrooms in March – with a battery version to follow – but a new 5-door hatchback is in the works, along with yet another product that will markedly expand the Fiat brand’s range of offerings.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Hollywood Edition

And the winners are...

by on Nov.18, 2011

Actress Paula Patton with the BMW i8 she drives in the next Misson Impossible film.

Here in the La-La-Land, the international entertainment industry’s base of  extravagance, excellence and elegance one expects wonderful staging, great sets and settings, spectacular lighting effects, dramatic music, exciting video, persuasive writing and polished performers, er, presenters, for some truly dramatic unveilings of new automobiles. Right?

Sorry to disappoint you but this year’s L.A. Auto Show – at least from a staging and presentation standpoint — merits a one word review: lackluster. Naturally, the cars are supposed to be the stars of any show. But the Los Angeles location demands, within proper fiduciary bounds excitement, wow’s, ah-ha grabbers, and OMGs, not somber, sterile, soporific moments.

In giant clusters, hundreds of auto writers, photographers, videographers, analysts, competitive executives and assorted ‘how in the hell did they get credentialed?’ car groupies moved in giant scrums around the Los Angeles Convention Center in 25-minute increments over the last two days.

Star Attraction!

All this to witness the 19 formal news conference on the official schedule before racing off to file their seemingly endless stream of  articles, blogs, reviews, comments, YouTube postings, FaceBook meanderings, tacky twitters and other news.  There is no way I was able to attend all the shows, nor did anyone I know, but in my unscientific survey of colleagues and in keeping with Tinseltown’s addiction to awards:

And the winners of Best of the Shows of LA Auto Show are: