NYC Auto Show: Chrysler Prez arrives on stage in butt-ugly Fiat

I wouldn't be caught dead driving that car if you paid me.
Nothing Fiat makes would be anything other than a laughing stock in North America.
You know what I don't get?
Daimler still owns 19% of Chrysler. Daimler has a bunch of small cars.
Why aren't we hearing about any deals to bring THOSE cars here to North America and badge them as Chryslers? They'd be much more attractive than these ulgy Fiat things.
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090408/ap_on_bi_ge/auto_show_chrysler
Wed Apr 8, 2009
NEW YORK Chrysler President and Vice Chairman Jim Press said Wednesday the government's May 1 deadline for the automaker to complete a deal with Fiat allows "ample time" to reach a definitive agreement that is key to saving Chrysler from bankruptcy.
"We prefer having a shorter timeframe to get through this period, get all the questions out of our minds, and get back to business as usual," Press said during the first day of media previews at the New York International Auto Show.
He surprised reporters at Chrysler's news conference to unveil a new Jeep Grand Cherokee by arriving on the stage in an iconic Fiat 500 subcompact. The 500, one of the Italian automaker's most successful models, would help fill the void of small vehicles in Chrysler's lineup if Chrysler survives and brings Fiat cars to U.S. showrooms by 2011, as planned.
"Don't you think that this would be a perfect car to get around New York City?" he told reporters. Shortly after, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee rounded the stage's corner and ascended a series of steps onto the stage.
The vehicle, which will be 11 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, will go on sale early next year.
Press said Chrysler has been aggressively moving to reduce costs while still unveiling new vehicles. The company has plans to introduce eight new vehicles in the next 18 months.
"We realize we have a responsibility to the American public," he said.
Press said Chrysler has been having a "constructive dialogue" with Fiat. The Italian automaker's chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, flew to Detroit on March 30, the day the Obama administration announced Chrysler and General Motors Corp.'s restructuring plans were insufficient and set strict deadlines for the companies to reach new goals or face bankruptcy.
"At this point in time with Fiat, we don't see anything that would be an impasse or a deal breaker," Press said. "We've had a constructive dialogue going, a cooperative dialogue with all the stakeholders, and we're hopeful that we'll be able to achieve the goals."
He said the company is progressing under the assumption that bankruptcy will not be required.
"We're pursuing the deal with Fiat assuming that a bankruptcy would not be the favored option. It wouldn't be in the best interest," he said. "Obviously you can't rule anything out, but we're working full speed, 24 hours a day to achieve the alliance and get our viability plan approved."
The government has said it will continue providing short-term aid for Chrysler while the Auburn Hills, Mich., company works out a deal, but Press said Chrysler hasn't needed more than the $4 billion the government provided earlier this year.
"We've been assured that if we need additional short-term aid, it's available from the government," he said. "Right now we're OK at this point in time."
Press declined to comment on reports that banks that lent Chrysler $6.8 billion in 2007 are resisting efforts to convert most of the automaker's debt to equity.
"We've got a lot of discussions going on with a lot of stakeholders, a lot of balls in the air," he said. "Those discussions are going on right now."
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Fiat cars ugly?
Personally I find some of the Fiat-branded cars bland-looking, but...
Try Alfa Romeo
www.alfaromeo.com
Unfortunately the website itself is rubbish, being overloaded with graphics.
The UK site is not much better:
www.alfaromeo.co.uk
Try this Swiss site
http://www.alfaromeo.ch/cgi-bin/pbrand.dll/ALFAROMEO_SWITZERLAND/models/modelsHP.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@2081180313.1239295748@@@@&BV_EngineID ciadegmfgmekicefecejgdfkhdfji.0
Or Australia
http://www.alfaromeo.com.au /
DAS
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

My question still stands.
Mercedes has several small car models that we never see here in North America.
Daimler still owns 19% of Chrysler.
If Chrysler is in dire need of an instant small car model, then why the hell isin't several Mercedes models being considered?
The Mercedes brand has way more cache than Fiat does.
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I agree with your question... :-)
But among the smaller Mercs you might find something less than attractive-looking, too, e.g. B Class. I have sat in one. Very comfortable and, for the size, quite spacious. But sooo bland... (and I am a Merc fan...)
Is this not sold in NA already?
Of course there is the A Class, quite nice (though I don't like sloping noses where you can't see the end, also in B Class) and the Smart. Would anyone in (major conurbations of) NA buy one?
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

There has been much written during 2005 - 2008 about the A and particularly B class Merc's coming to the US. Lots of talk about a re-designed B version specifically for US, even powered by natural gas. Main problem seems to be the US-Euro exchange rate making the B too expensive for the US market. Maybe that's changed within the past 6 months.
Apparently the B's have been sold in Canada since 2006 (or maybe 2005). No B model is offered on the US Mercedes website. It's written that the B will be introduced to the US in 2011.
The Canadian Mercedes website shows that only the 2.0 L engine is being offered for the B200 (turbo and non-turbo). The non-turbo starts at $29.9k, and the turbo costs $4k more.
Those prices are ridiculously high for what you get.
By contrast, the Chrysler Sebring starts at $23.5k, but is currently being discounted by Chrysler to about $22k. The base model has a 2.4l engine with VVT and automatic transmission.
The Dodge Calibre starts at about $16k (with discounts), has a 1.8L VVT engine and 5-spd manual transmission.
I don't see why Chrysler thinks it needs a small Fiat model, since it certainly won't be priced under $15k and it won't have an engine much smaller than 1.8L. In short, anything Fiat could offer will be priced similar to the Calibre or Sebring, and when the average buyer looks at the Fiat, Caliber and Sebring, they'll choose the Caliber or Sebring because you will simply get more car for the price, and you'll get pretty much the same fuel economy.

If Chrysler thinks Americans will buy Fiats, then why would the A and B class Merc's be any different? Except the price will be a factor.
This story isin't getting much press, but it helps to connect some dots:
----------- May 22, 2008
http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/428530
McGuinty (premier of Ontario) met yesterday in Turin with senior officials at Fiat, the parent company of the famed Italian carmaker, for face-to-face talks on luring a major new plant here.
While Fiat-owned Ferrari and Maserati sell high-end sports cars in Canada and the U.S., the company's mass-market products Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia have not been sold here for many years.
That's why the company is examining the possibility of a domestic Alfa Romeo factory to build cars for North America. ------------
This was long before the Fiat - Chrysler merger came to life. We don't see Alfa Romeo here in Canada, and really not in the USA either. In July 2006, Alfa Romeo said it will be returning to the US in late 2009.
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I meant the Smart specifically. Two front seats and plus space for a shopping bag behind... It's not really meant as a sole car if you have a variety of needs, especially if you don't live in a major city.
(I suppose the current Fiat 500 would be the nearest equivalent.)
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On Fri, 10 Apr 2009 11:48:17 +0100, "Dori A Schmetterling"

You occasionally see the Smart in urban Canada. But the A class is not sold here.
You don't see all that many B class. Given its $30K+ pricing, there are dozens of alternatives out there that I would buy first. At that kind of price for a 134HP engine, people are buying it for the star on the hood.
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But the star doesn't even stand proud. It's just stuck to the grille... Makes the view out front the same as in any car.. :-(
Another reason I am not keen on the B and A, or the sucessor to my first-generation CLK Cab. The current one has a grille star. Some policy about having such stars on 'sporty' models. Might also be a leftover from the period when it was fashionable for passing vandals to rip the stars off the bonnet.
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wrote:

Mercedes cost too much. Ref the Smart and B200 in Canada.
Fiat has cars in the Yaris & Corolla size category, where Chrysler is weak. The Caliper and Sebring are very good value, but they are mid sized cars. My concern with the Fiat is leg room. I've had leg room troubles in many of todays smaller cars that are designed in countries with shorter people. The small VW Beetle was fine for me. My knee hits the steering wheel so I have to wrap my leg around the wheel, making it unsafe for me to drive them. I'm only 5'-11".
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who wrote:

Yes.
As I don't follow car prices, I didn't know how unbalanced they were.
So now, given that the consumer (in Canada anyways) can get into a Chrysler or Dodge for the $15-$16k price point, then does it _really_ matter what their size is? Does it really matter that the Sebring and Caliber aren't micro-car sized?
Are Fiat cars that much smaller?
And will they cost less, or more, than Chrysler/Dodges current low-end models?
It will take the better part of a year for Chrysler to re-tool to make Fiat-based cars. So that ain't gonna save Chrysler.
And if all they do in the short term is sell re-badged Fiat's, then that just makes Chrysler the middle-man in the chain - and Fiat doesn't really need a middle man.
This whole thing with Fiat is just garbage that doesn't make sense.
Even if Chrysler's and Dodge's low end cars aren't "micro" in size, their price is, and in the end that's what really counts.
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(lotsa snips to just respond to some of the points)

Absolutely. As long as there are people who want a subcompact, and aren't interested in something bigger even if it costs the same, they need a subcompact. Doesn't apply to me, and apparently not to you -- if I were in the market for a new car the Caliber is about the smallest I'd even consider. For other people, it's bigger than they'd consider.

A concrete plan to bring a Fiat-based car to market in a year might be enough to get the cash to survive that year, so it might. But...

Fiat desperately needs a middle man. They've been out of the US market for a long time; they have no dealer network. Chrysler and Dodge dealers selling rebadged Fiats -- or even just selling Fiats -- would look great to them.

I'll bet you're either an accountant or an engineer -- you're exactly right from the perspective of the car and the money. But not from the perspective of selling the car for the money.
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

Lots of arguments about Europe, ancient streets, narrow streets, small spaces, a lot of people crammed into not-a-lot of real estate.
That's always been a major point in the argument as to why different car types evolved in different parts of the world.

With today's modern cad/cam, computer-based design, Chrysler could put their own sub-compact chassis into production in the same time frame. Chrysler has shown sub-compact concept cars over the past 5 - 10 years, it's not like they don't know how to make them, or have any ideas on the drawing board.

So what's stopping Chrysler and Dodge dealers from becoming also Fiat dealers tommorrow? They don't need Chrysler exec's for that. Chysler (the corporation, not the dealer network) isin't going to make a lot of money being the middle-man, and I don't see why a middle-man is even needed.
Fiat sets up a shell company importing the cars into the US, and those cars go straight to Chrysler and Dodge dealerships. Now, if there's anti-compete clause in the contracts between Chrysler and the dealers, well that's another matter.

I'm not an engineer, but I play one at work.

Like I said above, we here in North America are not under the same size constraints that car consumers are in Europe.
Americans who buy a sub-compact are doing it based first on price, then second on fuel economy (engine size, vehicle weight). When you're first constraint is money, you inevitably spiral down to the sub-compact class.
I still say that if you have a $15k fiat vs a $15k caliber, and the engines are within .2L of each other in size, that an American will buy the caliber _because_ it's a bigger car.
And there's no way that any Fiat will be priced less than a Caliber.
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It is a strange thing about Europe, it is more "rural" than the US, the cities are of course tighter in space and a lot of them date back to the medieval times, but in Germany, even the smaller towns can accomodate Caliber sized cars. In Italy, the other story. Towns are extremely crowded, but again, more people live in rural areas. I remember the Fiat 500 my step-father had, looked like a toy with wheels! Plus, if Fiat has not fixed their reputation for quality, then American memories of pre-rusted, unreliable cars, will kill Fiat.
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wrote:

My wife and I bought a new 2007 Caliber and find that it is the perfect size, and it is getting around 30-31mpg around town(using Mobil1 Advanced Economy Formula). It reminds me of the size of my 86 Lancer hatchback, that was a great sized little car, with the 2.5/automatic, got good mileage and was very reliable. Of course, my car is a bit larger, a 1941 Windsor 4 door/Fluid Drive-Vacamatic(Chrysler fans will know what that is) and gets around 18 mpg, but man does it ride smooth, and quality, can't beat it!
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snipped-for-privacy@MonsterChillerHorrorTheater.com wrote: Of course, my

Back when I used to actually drive my '49 Plymouth Special Deluxe coupe, it would get around 20-21 mpg. That always amazed me since it has the aerodynamics of a brick, and a whopping 7.0:1 compression ratio and something like a 3.7:1 final drive ratio (it can stay with traffic at 70 MPH, but its not happy there- it would much rather cruise at 60). Skinny tires and a lack of power-robbing accessories make a huge difference in efficiency. If someone would build a Caliber-sized car with no power steering (not needed for a car that small anyway, power brakes (also not needed for a car that small), or power windows, seats, and locks, it could probably push 50 mpg, still have AC, and go like stink.
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Steve, Why don't you still drive your 49? Are you a member of an antique car club? My wife and I have been many hundreds of miles on our former 40 Royal Club Coupe, and after the front end gets rebuilt on the 41 Windsor 4 door, hope to drive many hundreds more. Those old flathead 6's and 8's were amazing at how efficient they were. Of course, people would not buy a car without the power accessories today. Our 2007 Caliber is getting 30-31 mpg, and I agree with you: power steering and brakes are not needed on a car this small. Power windows are a good security and convience feature, I don't see how they detract from mileage. As far as I know, the Caliber does not offer power seats, again not needed on any car, as far as I am concerned. I credit the CVT transmission for the excellent mileage and the efficient 2.0 engine.
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snipped-for-privacy@MonsterChillerHorrorTheater.com wrote:

<sigh>
It got pushed to the back of the priority list when I a) got married, b) got more career demands on my time, c) had a daughter, d) got the '69 Coronet R/T (more my era, but I still love the '49), e) remodeled the house the first time (and its doe for another...) f) the daughter started high school, g) I got the Jeep for the daughter to drive and got all interested in *it*.... In other words, Life happened ;-) I wouldn't trade the life for the car, but I still have it, its stored indoors, and maybe when I retire in a few more years....

I am, but its more a of a '60s car emphasis. Still, there are a few other guys with old flatheads too. Some day...

I just DO NOT understand that. IF anyone would ever *drive* a light car without PS, they'd see that its really unnecessary on light cars and very much detracts from the steering feel. As for power brakes.. heck, I've converted two of my '60s cars to manual disks from power disks, and I really wouldn't go back except maybe on the heavier C-body. The B-body (3800 lb) is perfect with a well chosen ratio of master cylinder diameter to caliper piston diameter. The only price you pay is a slightly longer pedal stroke, but the feel is very precise- more so than the damped feel of power brakes. Our

Just weight. By themselves, power windows wouldn't detract much, but throw in all the other power devices, and things get heavy. I've read that modern power window systems are actually lighter than manual window regulators. Maybe so, but I doubt it by the time you throw in the wiring (copper isn't light) and switches. But the other stuff all adds weight and/or a direct power draw from the engine.

Not to hijack the thread (oops, too late...) tell me about the CVT. I've read that its programmed to have "shift points" like a conventional automatic so that it won't "confuse customers" (I know the masses collectively are stupid, but why do they have to assume everyone is stupid? And un-educatable?) That seems to be corroborated by people who've driven Caliber rentals and when I asked them about the CVT, they say "THAT thing is a CVT?!? I thought it was just the crappiest automatic I've ever driven!" I keep hoping to get a Caliber, Compass or Patriot rental so that I can fool with it myself, but I never have yet. I have heard that the software can be re-flashed to make it behave like a true CVT, and that seems like it would add another 2-3 mpg versus forcing "shift points" that send the engine back down into the lugging zone.
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Steve, They may have done that in the earlier models, but ours was a later model 2007, August, and it feels like an airplane going down the runway, continuous, smooth power flow. We can cruise at 65 and the engine is running at 2K RPM's. On our way up to 65, we don't feel any shifting of the transmission at all. In my 41, the Fluid Drive acts much like that, smooth power get away, then lift my foot up on the accelerator, shifting into high, not much feeling there, then smoothly up to about 60-65. Mine is the Vacamatic 4 speed Fluid Drive, very smooth, without the "clunk" of the later M-6 electric/hydraulic Fluid Drive of post-war cars.
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You obviously haven't driven a FWD car that size without power steering. The smaller early Chrysler Horizons and Ford Escorts didn't have power steering, very difficult for parking.
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who wrote:

Actually, its exactly BECAUSE of once driving a manual-steering Horizon that I think all small cars *should* be manual steering. It was perfectly acceptable. Heck, A Valiant with manual steering was fine too.
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