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Fiat Roadster Key to Brand’s Revival in US

Execs hoping new 124 will light a sales spark.

by on Jun.09, 2016

FCA is hoping the new 2017 Fiat Spider 124 will jump start sales for the brand in the U.S.

Automakers are always looking for ways to attract younger buyers to their brand. But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is hoping that the introduction of a new two-seat roadster will put a spark into the sales of the Fiat brand in the U.S.

Fiat brand sales were down 19% in May, compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the Fiat 500, which has been hurt by consumers’ turn towards trucks and utility vehicles, dropped by 49% and sales of the 500L were off by 69%. But sales of the 500X utility vehicle were up in May compared with the same month a year ago, in its first month of year-over-year comparisons.

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Deliveries of the all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider are expected to begin arriving this month. The 124 Spider revives the storied nameplate, bringing its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation of vehicles and buyers. (more…)

Tests Suggest Fiat May Also Have Diesel Emissions Issues

German report raises new concerns about emissions cheating.

by on Apr.25, 2016

The report claims VW was found using software that rolled back emissions controls after 22 minutes.

Fiat may find itself embroiled in the growing scandal surrounding diesel emissions problems.

A report out of Germany suggests the emissions control system on the Italian automaker’s diesel engines may be programmed to allow significantly higher levels of pollution if run for longer than 22 minutes at a time.

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Automakers are coming under increased scrutiny in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal – a crisis that has already cost the German maker at least $18.2 billion and subject it to hundreds of lawsuits and potential criminal charges. Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG has launched a probe into its own diesel emissions technology following a request from the U.S. Justice Department. And a number of German automakers have already recalled 630,000 diesels to revise emissions control software.

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Where’s Charlie? Has Fiat Cut Sheen?

Project for Fiat 124 Spider with controversial actor put in the “drawer.”

by on Nov.20, 2015

Charlie Sheen with actress/model Catrinel Menghia in the Fiat Abarth commercial.

Despite generating plenty of buzz with an earlier commercial for the Italian brand, Fiat has decided to put in the “drawer” a commercial it was putting together for the new Fiat 124 Spider that featured legendary Hollywood “bad boy” Charlie Sheen.

The move comes at a time when the controversial actor is back in the news, revealing he is HIV positive. That, in turn, has prompted some former partners to threaten to bring lawsuits against Sheen for allegedly failing to advise them of his health problems.

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A still-incomplete video featuring Sheen driving wildly in the new roadster was played for several dozen reporters during a sneak preview of the new Fiat 124 Spider at parent Fiat Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan on November 3rd. But it was notably absent from the public unveiling of the 2-seater at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, prompting speculation there may be a connection to Sheen’s latest troubles.

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Fiat Hopes New 124 Spider Will Catch Buyers in its Web

Bad boy Charlie Sheen to help launch the roadster’s marketing campaign.

by on Nov.18, 2015

The new Fiat 124 Spider picks up on classic cues of the original Italian roadster.

Fiat is driving forward into the past, hoping it can build some much-needed momentum by reviving the once-iconic 124 Spider nameplate.

Nearly a half century after its introduction, an all-new version of the Fiat 124 Spider is making its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The debut also comes five years after the Fiat brand itself formally launched its return to the U.S. market at the annual L.A. show.

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“There’s no better way to celebrate 50 years of the Fiat 124 Spider than to bring back this iconic roadster, pairing its Italian styling of the past with all of the modern performance and technology of today,” said Olivier François, global Fiat brand boss.

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Fiat Ready to Ground and Pound with New Fullback

Could new midsize truck come to U.S. someday?

by on Nov.12, 2015

Could this -- the new Fiat Fullback -- be the basis for a new midsize Ram pickup truck in the U.S.?

The midsize truck’s return to its former glory is something to behold as GM’s trucks rack up awards and accolades and Ford’s plans to bring back the Ranger as a midsize truck are now set in the concrete that is a pact with the UAW, what company is next? Fiat Chrysler?

The maker already sells a Ram 700 in Mexico and built in Brazil. Adding to the rumor mill is the introduction of the Fiat Fullback, which will be sold in Europe, Africa and the Middle East: just like the Ranger.

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However, there might be a little more to it than just the similarities between the Ford Ranger and the Fiat truck. Check out the explanation of the new name from Fiat in the press release. (more…)

Lexus, Toyota Top Latest Consumer Reports Reliability Survey

CR yanks recommendation for Tesla Model S.

by on Oct.20, 2015

Lexus ranked at the top of the CR Automotive Reliability Study thanks to vehicles like the RX450h.

As has been the case consistently over the past few decades, Toyota and its upscale Lexus brand once again topped the 2015 Consumer Reports Automotive Reliability Study; but the annual survey of U.S. motor vehicle owners also revealed a number of surprises.

Among other things, the CR study shows big gaps between the best and worst manufacturers, whether Asian, American or European. And while some of the biggest reliability issues in recent years have involved advanced infotainment technologies, the 2015 study indicates U.S. motorists have also been experiencing serious problems with the latest, high-mileage transmissions.

Another unexpected finding comes as a bit of an embarrassment for Consumer Reports itself. Earlier this year, the magazine gave its highest rating ever to the Tesla Model S. But CR has now withdrawn its sought-after “Recommended Buy” endorsement from the battery car because of significant reliability issues.

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“Tesla has moved from ‘Average’ to ‘Below Average,’ said Jake Fisher, who oversees automotive testing for the non-profit magazine. “Were no longer recommending the Model S,” which suffered from a variety of issues, ranging from squeaks and rattles to drivetrain failures, as well as electric door handles that wouldn’t operate properly, explained Fisher.

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Pope’s Fiat 500L Creating Buzz During U.S. Visit

Small, low-priced car metaphor for Pontiff’s message of humbleness and humility.

by on Sep.28, 2015

Pope Francis has been traveling to venues in the U.S. in a black Fiat 500L.

Thousands, perhaps millions, of people followed the movements of Pope Francis during his six-day visit to the U.S. hanging on every word he uttered and, not surprisingly, the black Fiat 500L that often ferried him from event to event.

The compact car is a marked departure from vehicles used by past leaders of the Roman Catholic church, who have used a variety of high-priced luxury vehicles from Mercedes and other makers to go from place to place.

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However, the 500L, which costs less than $30,000 fully loaded, appears to mirror the pontiff’s image of a man who still attempts to honor his pledge to live a life of poverty he took as a priest in Argentina more than 30 years ago. (more…)

Fiat’s Reborn 124 Spider to Make LA Auto Show Debut

New model will share platform with latest Mazda Miata.

by on Sep.01, 2015

The new Fiat 124 Spider will share platforms with the Mazda Miata, shown here, but get a unique body and its own powertrain options.

Fiat will bring an old name back to life next year when it launches an all-new version of its once-popular 124 Spider.

But it has gotten a helping hand from an unusual ally. The little two-seater will share platforms with the recently redesigned Mazda Miata, and both models are expected to be produced side-by-side at the Japanese maker’s plant in Hiroshima.

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That said, company officials promise that the new Fiat 124 Spider will feature a distinctly different look than the well-reviewed Mazda. And it is expected to opt for a different powertrain line-up, as well.

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First Look: Updated Fiat 500

No immediate plans for U.S. market update.

by on Jul.07, 2015

The 2016 Fiat 500 gets a number of exterior and interior updates - in Europe.

While we Americans have only had access to the little Fiat 500 since the 2012 model-year, it’s been around the block for awhile – getting only modest changes since its European introduction in 2007. Considering the speed with which vehicles are being refreshed these days, that might suggest the Cinquecento is already overdue.

And, indeed, for 2016 Fiat is bringing some changes to the little car, making a number of modest exterior updates, introducing revised powertrains, and giving the 2016 Fiat 500 a much more user-friendly infotainment system based on the Uconnect system developed by the Chrysler side of the family.

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Here’s the catch: for now, the changes to the Fiat 500 are for the European market only. There’s no word if or when we’ll see the Italian maker tweak the U.S. version.

“The 500 revealed in Turin is a model produced in Europe for Europe,” explains FCA spokesman Bryan Zvibleman. “The Fiat 500 for North America will continue to be produced in Toluca, Mexico keeping the specific features for the North American market.”

So, what are you missing out on?

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Mazda or Scion or Fiat? Alliances Are Changing the Face of the Auto Industry

Automakers partner up to cut costs, expand product lines.

by on May.28, 2015

The new Mazda Miata was developed as part of a joint venture with Fiat.

When the new iA comes to Scion showrooms later this year, it will mark the first time Toyota’s youth-oriented brand has offered a sedan.

To bring it to market, Scion sought out some help, largely repurposing a 4-door model developed by smaller Japanese automaker Mazda. Toyota also will use the subcompact Mazda2 as the starting point for the next version of its small Yaris model – which will be assembled at a new Mazda plant in Mexico.

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Confused? You’re not alone.  It takes more than just a scorecard to keep up with the convoluted alliances in today’s increasingly competitive auto industry. Hoping to add more models to their line-ups while at the same time driving down costs, traditional competitors are finding advantages to working together.

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