Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Fiat 500 to be Italian Mini?

2 posts in this topic

Is There More for Fiat's 500?
Sporty model and convertible planned; wagon, SUV studied
Posted Image
By LUCA CIFERRI | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Published 07/24/07, 3:45 pm et

TURIN, Italy - Fiat wants to capitalize on its sales leadership in European minicars by turning the new 500 into a full model range.

Beyond the known variations - a three-door hatchback now, an Abarth performance model later this year and a convertible next summer - Fiat is considering a three-door station wagon and a four-wheel-drive SUV based on the wagon. Fiat has said it may sell the Abarth 500 in the United States after 2010.

The company has not yet approved the new 500 station wagon. Nor has it approved a program to create an SUV by combining the station wagon body and the 4wd system from the Fiat Panda.

"By the end of the year, we expect to decide on the 500 and SUV," a Fiat executive told Automotive News Europe on the condition of anonymity.

But a wagon concept appeared in a video shown at the 500's media introduction in June. During the video, Fiat 500 designer Roberto Giolito displayed the wagon version of the new 500. Like the original 500 Giardiniera launched in 1960, the potential new model shown in the video is a three-door wagon.

Fiat built 3.9 million units of the original 500 between 1957 and 1977. About 372,000 units were Giardiniera wagons.

Following Mini

Fiat has used BMW's Mini brand as a model for the 500 launch. Broadening the product range is yet another parallel. The second-generation Mini is available as a three-door and convertible. Mini will add the Clubman station wagon this fall and is considering a crossover model.

Similarly, Fiat has committed to three versions of the 500. Fiat launched the minicar in Italy on July 5 as a three-door hatchback with a choice of two gasoline engines (a 69-hp 1.2-liter or 100-hp 1.4-liter) or a 75-hp, 1.3-liter diesel. The hatchback will be the only choice when the 500 goes on sale in France this month.

The first derivative - the Abarth sporty version - will debut either in October at the Tokyo auto show or in December at the Bologna auto show in Italy.

The Abarth 500 will be launched with a 135-hp turbo version of the 500's 1.4-liter gasoline engine. Still under development is a hotter Abarth 500 SS (an abbreviation for Super Sport) with 155 hp.

Convertible is next

Fiat already has approved a 500 convertible derivative that is scheduled to debut next summer.

During the video at the 500's media introduction here, designer Giolito sketched a pillarless 500 convertible with a canvas top.

Sources familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe that Fiat has not decided on the final configuration of the 500 convertible. A pillarless version is under consideration.

Creating demand

If all the 500 derivatives are approved, Fiat thinks it could have annual demand for nearly 200,000 units by the end of the decade.

Initial demand is strong enough that Fiat is considering increasing its production schedule. The original plan was to build 58,000 units of the 500 this year and 120,000 units in 2008. Fiat group CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company already plans to increase 500 output to 150,000 units next year.

On June 1, Fiat authorized Italian dealers to start placing orders for the 500.

"By the end of June, we had already received more than 25,000 dealer orders," said Luca De Meo, Fiat Automobiles CEO. "If Italian orders continue at this pace, we might delay the new 500 introduction outside Italy."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That tiny station wagon would recreate the Giardiniera model. Click here (in Italian).

Edited by ZL-1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0