Posts Tagged ‘fiat’

Didn’t Fiat once occupy the motoring pages for new cars too? Of course they did, only recently their delightful little 500 was picking up all the headlines for design awards and stop-start technology and now there’s rumours floating around about Fiat that involve cars rather than purchasing countries.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, the 500 has been turned bright pink for Barbie, had it’s top taken off for convertible status and is now likely to be fattened up an older, more traditional name taken from this: 

fiat 500 giardiniera

Don’t ask me why but looking at this Fiat I think of Kent countryside in the summer and picnics. That’s despite the suitcase and German language in the ad. Perhaps it’s the tartan. 

The original hasn’t been around since 1970 but the the upcoming 500 Giardiniera is strongly tipped to be a mini-SUV. Small and quirky enough to bounce around town and nip cheekily into parking spots yet roomy enough for a little family holiday too, almost like the classic imagery in the ad above. If it does it will put Fiat into direct competition with the Mini clubman, a car which – I think – looks ridiculous in lengthened form.

We shall see. Then again, what is really the point in a mini-suv? Why not just get a family sized-car? Are we in danger in flooding the market with pointless model types? I think so…

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His name must be one of the most discussed in motoring press since Lee Iacocca first saved Chrysler back in the 80’s but sat this morning, while nursing my first coffeeat the office, that Sergio Marchionne was planning on another big buy: Switzerland.

Once I’d mopped up the spluttered coffee I learnt that this was, infact, just another demonstration on the power of myth and the internet for peddling the rumour mill. A spoof newswire from Dow Jones was flying around emails and the news had travelled ‘overnight’ from the U.S to my leafy office in Kent that the Fiat boss had extended his megalomania beyond the auto-industry and into geography.

Apparently, Sergio  feels buying Switzerland would be a great way to rationalize a surfeit of brands and capacity, both for the car industry and Europe. The CEO of Fiat is hoping to line up some cash from the Italian government to fund the fusion of Fiat, Chrysler and Opel / Vauxhall (Saab is still uncertain) though there’s no mention as to whether tax money would fund his purchase of some choice ski slopes. Given the behaviour of Italy’s president I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he considered this a genuine idea and gladly handed over funds.

There’s also been no mention as yet if Marchionne is amused or even gives a flying… about the spoof report. The real question though is to whether the creation of such a giant car company is a good idea, VW’s chief has already called it “unhealthy” but is that just sour grapes. 

What do you reckon: would Fiat’s growth and acquisitions be a positive move for the auto-industry, wallowing in the mud as it is?

According to a certain search engine, there’s a Kent in Texas aswell as ‘my’ Kent here in the UK. In my mind, and probably reality, there’s nothing similar between the two. I imagine the Texan version to be far diffetrent to the green and verdant-hilled ‘garden of England’ Kent in the UK. new ford Ka

Things are, allegedly, bigger in Texas and certainly in America in comparison to here and especially so when it comes to cars, but the small world of European cars may soon loom larger in the US. Thanks to the most talked about auto deal, there will soon be a plethora of small cars from Ford and Fiat in Kent, Texas (and the rest of the US of course) as well as England.

While there’s been no trend for Americans purchasing a car that’ s less than a metre-and-a-half long, Ford’s KA could soon be Stateside thanks to the Fiat / Chrysler deal. It shares its platform with Fiat’s 500 which is heading to America and will be built at one of Chrylser’s North American factories. A move that will make it oh-so-tempting for Ford to offer the KA to drivers in the US.

The Fiat 500‘s  platform will be built at a factory in Mexico, not all that far from Kent, Texas, according to my maps. 

With the arrival of at least 3 choices (don’t forget the MiTo) now looking more and more certain, is America going to buy the smaller cars?

I get the impression now that board meetings at Fiat are starting to resemble a Pinky and the Brain cartoon with CEO Sergio Marchionne uttering the famous words “try to take over the world!”fiat

In motoring terms, Monday could see them get a whole lot closer as Machionne is set to meet German economic and foreign ministers in Berlin to go over Fiat’s offer for Opel/Vauxhall. It’s been less than a week since the Italian car company – who’s marques include Alfa Romeo and Ferrari (!) – confirmed it’s in talks to buy most of GM’s European operations in a deal that may yet include Saab too.

Given that they look to take huge chunk of Chrylser, and to do so without fronting any cash, thus putting them in  a perfect position to take their products State side, and if the deal to acquire Opel is given the go ahead then they’d create a company with a turnover of an estimated $105 billion in annual revenue and a whole lot of cars. 

When Chrysler emerges from the current dust it’s under,Sergio Marchionne has already announced that he’ll be the new CEO there too. Not only that, but it’s predicted they’ll be out of bankruptcy in less than 60 days. 

Here I have to wonder if it means there’ll be any significant changes. Whilst locally its certain to mean that we’ll see a lot more Chyrslers on the roads in Kent as they move from Fiat dealers, will the Opel takeover mean amalglamating Vauxhall and Fiat dealers into one giant forecourt or losing dealerships somewhere to cut costs?

Either way, I still find it amusing given that it’s only been 4 years since GM paid $2 billion to get out of a partnership with Fiat and are now looking to get a stake in the company as part of the deal for the European (and possibly Latin American) operations.

It used to be some guy called Raymond, but now everybody loves economy. Fuel economy, that is, and everybody being car buyers. Well, that’s what the car makers believe as they’re lining up to push new, increasingly economical versions of their cars onto the roads.

A new version of the already perfect-for-the-city, new Fiat 500 yesterday with what they call the Start&Stop system on vehicles with the 1.2 litre engine. The system basically turns off the 500’s engine when you bring it to complete stop and put it in neutral. When you want to move off you simply put drop the clutch to put it in gear and the engine will restart.  

Now, given that I’ve been told countless times that turning things off then back on actually uses more energy than leaving them running for a few minutes, I was impressed to find out that this ups the new Fiat‘s city fuel economy to 49.6mpg (from 44.1) and the combined fuel to 58.9mpg (from 55.4). It also cuts down those dirty CO2 emissions to 113g/km too.

It costs a little more but the fuel savings will make that extra £200 back pretty quick and there’s plenty of value in feeling like you’re helping the planet a bit too. Just don’t get too smug about it or you may as well have a Prius. 

I hope we can look forward to more auto makers looking at this method – anyone who’s been stuck in either inner city or M25 traffic jam surrounded by cars with engines running and trying not to be sick from the fumes will agree I’m sure.

There’s usually one assocaition with the phrases “axes” and “job cuts” but imagine my surprise when Fiat announced they’re axing the job cuts. The best kind of double negative? I think so.

So what’s going on? Fiat have cancelled their scheduled factory shutdowns that would have affected 8,000 workers and, for once, it’s thanks to the government. The Italian government introduced a new incentive that meant any consumer trading in a polluting, older vehicle (at least 10 years old) and buy a newer, eco-friendlier car would get payments of  €1,500.

The surge in demand means that Fiat have been able to cancel short-term lay offs.

While the governments here and in the US have tried helping the auto industry with bailouts, is this a better solution?

If trading in your big, gas guzzling and polluting 12 year old motor means getting the same sort of money back as the Italians (about £1,300 and $1,900 ) would you be more likely to be buying a new Fiat 500 for example? Not only would you be saving money anyway given the lower fuel costs but the government would be giving you nice lump toward an already cheap motor.

In this way the Italian government are helping both the auto industry, their own economy (given the mass scale and import of the Fiat group there) and the environment.

Is this the way forward? Teach a man to fish and all that…