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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.

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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.”


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.

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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.


Fiat 500L to Debut in Geneva

U.S. likely to get only 5-passenger version.

by on Jan.30, 2012

Fiat continues rolling out new models - such as the 500 Gucci Edition, hoping to finally gain some traction.

Bigger is better, or so goes the classic mantra of the American motorist.  So, can Fiat improve its fortunes by going just a wee bit bigger with an extended version of its 500 minicar?

Company officials confirm they will reveal the stretched version of the Cinquecento at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, what is expected to be called the Fiat 500L likely to land in U.S. showrooms in 2013.

At just over 163 inches, the new model will measure only about 2.5 inches more than the current model, yet Europeans will be offered both a 2-row 5-seater and a 3-row 7-seat version.

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One of several sources confirmed that current plans call for offering only the 5-seat model when the Fiat 500L jumps the Atlantic.


Dodge-based Fiat Freemont One of Many Chrysler-Based Product Debuts in Geneva

New badges, new powertrains, but will Europeans accept American maker under any name?

by on Jan.25, 2011

The Dodge Journey will reappear, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, with a Fiat badge on its nose.

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.

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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.