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After 30 years, Fiat ready for U.S. return

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After 30 years, Fiat ready for U.S. return

Luca Ciferri

Automotive News -- July 26, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

The Fiat brand returns to North America in December after an absence of nearly three decades.

Depending on the source providing the information, Fiat wants to sell between 50,000 and 100,000 vehicles in North America in 2011. Fiats will be sold in about 200 U.S. Chrysler Group dealerships, mainly in metropolitan areas.

The lineup will consist of the 500 minicar and four subsequent variations. They will compete with small imports such as the Mini. The 500 should get more than 40 mpg.

The Fiat 500 two-door hatchback is set to arrive in December. It will be powered by a 100-hp, 1.4-liter Fiat FIRE engine equipped with the carmaker's MultiAir system, which boosts performance and fuel economy.

The four-seat car will be manufactured in Toluca, Mexico; and the engine, in Dundee, Mich.

In 2011, Fiat will begin selling a convertible version of the 500 in North America. It also will be assembled in Toluca.

In 2012, an electric version will be added. The EV, which will be sold only in the United States, will have a lithium ion battery pack.

Also in 2012, Fiat will sell an Abarth performance brand version of the 500. The Abarth gets an imported version of the 1.4-liter FIRE turbo engine delivering 160 hp.

Finally, Fiat will import a four-door version of the 500 from Serbia. In Europe, where the model goes on sales in 2012, the still-unnamed vehicle would be classified as a small minivan because it has a hatch in the rear and a high roof. The timing for U.S. sales is unclear.

Fiat will build the vehicle for export at a plant in Turin, Italy, on a longer and wider platform than the two-door 500.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100726/OEM04/307269990/1306#ixzz0unPzfsty

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