January 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Chrysler announced yesterday that the troubled automaker has entered into a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA, giving both companies access to each others’ products and markets. Fiat will also lend a hand in developing a business plan to present to the US Treasury; bringing with it experience gained through the Italian auto giant’s own restructuring. Chrysler now gets access to a range of small, fuel-efficient cars that are nothing like what is currently offered in American showrooms. Fiat’s engineering will be shifted over to some Chrysler manufacturing sites, keeping the plants busy and offering both brands ample capacity for the parts they will need to build cars.
in return for coming to the rescue Fiat will get a 35 percent equity interest in Chrysler and a way for the Italian automaker to re-enter the American market by suppling Chrysler the small cars it’s badly lacking. The partnership will go the other way, as well, with Chrysler vehicles gaining access to other markets through Fiat’s distribution avenues. With this new alliance Chrysler has dramatically increased its chances of not just survival but also possible future prosperity.
December 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
The Fiat Punto has passed the million sales mark with the production of a right hand drive Punto Sport T-Jet in Passionate Red last week.
The sales landmark puts the latest Punto well on its way to matching the production runs of the first two generation of Fiat’s small car, with the first generation closing its account at 3.5 million and the second generation recording a sales run of 3.0 million, giving the Punto a total sales figure of 7.5 million cars for its three generations.
More than a quarter of Puntos produced are the performance versions, the Sport and Racing and 30 per cent of Punto buyers opt for the Blue&Me communications system. In markets where it has been launched, the Punto Natural Power system that can run on both petrol and methane now accounts for 24 per cent of sales.
November 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
The time has arrived for the 2008 NZ Car of the Year awards and nine vehicles have been shortlisted for New Zealand’s biggest automotive accolade. Among the finalists is the FG Ford Falcon reinforcing its popularity here in NZ, and the stylish Fiat 500.
Votes will be submitted by all members of the Motoring Writers Guild of NZ and finalists will be judged on various criteria. These criteria include how well the vehicle performs its allotted role; styling; interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety; environmental responsibility.
The winner will be announced on Monday the 12th of January 2009.
The full list of finalists:
FG-series Ford Falcon
Honda Accord Euro
November 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
A special Fiat 500 Abarth variant has been created to commemorate Karl Abarth’s 100th (born on November 15, 1908) birthday. Not just a styling exercise, the 500 Abarth “DA O A 100″ tribute comes with an upgraded 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Acceleration to 100kmh takes just 7.3 seconds, helped along by shortened gear ratios. Suspension is revised as well, with lowered springs and new 17-inch alloys fitted with low-profile Pirelli PZero Neros.
The ’100 is shined up with Nuvolari Grey paint along with special silver side stripes and chrome-plated badges and side mirrors. Inside, that color scheme is repeated in leather with contrasting stitching. If you want one, better get your name on the list now, as Fiat’s only planning to build 101 of the unique 500s.
October 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
South America is a vital market for Fiat, and with the Sao Paulo International Auto Show coming up, the Italian automaker’s Brazilian arm has something special planned for the locals. Called the Bugster, it looks like a cross between a KTM X-Bow and a Jeep Wrangler.
Very little is known at this point, except that its green color is radical. Its undisclosed powertrain is good for zero-emission transportation, and the eco-friendly body panels are made out of renewable natural fibers. More details should come to the surface as the Sao Paulo show prepares to open at the end of this month.
Check back for more concepts from the upcoming Sao Paulo show.
October 9th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
Fiat has just launched a new device that could change the way motorists drive their cars. Fiat presented eco:Drive to the international press last week at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. This innovative system gives drivers an accurate insight into how their driving style influences their fuel consumption, and actively helps them to drive more efficiently, saving money and reducing their CO2 emissions.
eco:Drive is a software application that can be downloaded and installed on any computer. eco:Drive works using Fiat’s Blue&Me entertainment and communications system, which was developed in conjunction with Microsoft. Plugging any USB key into the Blue&Me port allows eco:Drive to record detailed information about the vehicle’s efficiency and your driving style during a journey. The information can be ‘read’ by plugging the USB key into your computer when you’ve finished driving.
Users can analyse fuel consumption and emissions for each journey made, and receive advice on how to drive more efficiently, reducing their impact on the environment. eco:Drive will give you a score out of 100 – your eco:Index – to show how efficiently you have driven, based on your acceleration, deceleration, gear changes and speed. A series of tutorials will help you to improve your score, showing you how to perfect your driving using detailed information from your own journeys.
Drivers who start eco:Driving can expect to improve their driving efficiency by up to 15 per cent. That means a 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions and in fuel costs. Fiat has also created ecoVille, an online community populated by all eco:Drivers from around the world. Users will be able to share tips, watch the community grow, and see just how much CO2 they are all saving together.
Fiat 500 and Grande Punto are the first Fiat Group vehicles to use eco:Drive. In 2009, eco:Drive will be extended to the rest of the Fiat range equipped with Blue&Me.
September 24th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
Official images of the new confusingly named Fiat 500 Abarth esseesse have been released and as expected the car is about as sharp as a Italian hatch can be.
The esseesse is decked out with a full body kit consisting of a new front fascia, lower side skirts and a redesigned rear bumper with a diffuser and pair of chrome exhaust tips, while 17-inch wheels and a small spoiler finish off the look.
Inside, a set of bolstered bucket seats keep driver and passenger snug in the bends and expect a revised IP, red trim and Abarth logos are embossed into the dash. No engine specs have been released yet, but expectations are that the turbocharged 1.4-liter should put around 160 hp through a six-speed manual before it reaches the front wheels through a Q2 Torsen C limited slip differential.
All details will be fully revealed at the Paris Motor Show.
September 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham
Just as the new Fiat 500 was inspired the original Fiat 500, one of Italy’s oldest coachbuilders has used a version of the original Fiat 500 favoured by the rich and famous, the Fiat 500 Jolly, to produce a modern version, the Fiat 500 TenderTwo.
The original Fiat 500 Jolly was produced by Ghia and sold from 1958 to 1966. It was known in Italy as La Spiaggina, the nearest English translation for which is “Beach-ette”. Its cut down, doorless sides, lowered windscreen, chromed bodywork and whicker pattern seats made it popular with owners such as Yul Brynner and Aristotle Onassis who used them as yacht tenders, golf carts and estate runabouts.
That use of the original Fiat 500 Jolly as a yacht tender — it was small enough to be lifted on and off yachts so it could be used while in port — has inspired both the name of the new car — the Fiat 500 Castagna TenderTwo — and its style. As well as the removal of the doors and side and rear windows to produce an open car, as well as wicker-patterned upholstery from the original car, the TenderTwo has a teak rear deck and the trim is in marine quality, with stainless steel and more teak completes the trim. Under the teak deck is a storage compartment for beach towels and the roof and tonneau covers.
But two other features show that this new car is, unlike the original car, mechanically totally different to its normal brethren. There is no exhaust pipe at the back and sitting atop the dashboard is a new digital display panel that displays such useful information as battery charge and discharge, power consumption and gear position, all required because the 500 Tender Two is fully electric.
Produced in conjunction with the Swiss electric power experts, Mes-DEA, the 500 Tender Two uses a new type of ‘Zebra’ battery that not only provides excellent performance with a top speed of 130kph and a range of 140 km, it can also be re-charged significantly more quickly than other electric cars and without the requirement of special power supply. Using a normal domestic power source it go from flat to 80 per cent capacity in under four hours. Castagna and Mes-DEA are working on a long range hybrid version of the normal Fiat 500.
Meanwhile, the Fiat 500 Castagna TenderTwo will be built to order and individual specification in limited numbers like its predecessor, no doubt for the rich and famous.