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Chrysler, again.

Tuesday, 17 February, 2009

Fiat will soon own 55% of Chrysler, LLC. For all of you North Americans who could not name a Fiat model other than the X1/9 and persist with the fix-it-again-tony and fundamentally-inept-automotive-technology gags, you should know the Fiats of old are as gone as the Chevrolet Citation, Ford Fairmont, Plymouth and Oldsmobile.

The Fiats of old were wonderful drivers and appealing to the eye but the mechanical and electrical stuff was so clumsy the Soviets made fun of Fiat. When the original Panda made its way to Yugoslavia, Zastava was obliged to nearly re-engineer it to meet exacting Eastern-Bloc standards. If only Fiat could retain that quintessentially Italian passion while designing chassis and engines which could run for several hours without a major service.

All right, visually the Chroma is n0 Brava, but the quality of the mechanical bits and the quality of the driving experience are no longer in inverse proportions. In this internet age one should hang up one’s automotive journalist blogger credentials if you are somehow unaware that Fiat has made as even more progress in the build quality of their automobiles in the last twenty-six model years as Hyundai has in eight.

Chrysler shall soon have good, tiny cars. This is what the market demands. I don’t know what happened, but there you are. Smart and Mini are selling all the cars they can ship while the rest of the business is looking for handouts. Chrysler plants shall also keep busy assembling Alfa Romeos and possibly authentic Fiat Nuova 500s for the U.S. domestic market. Fiat has a commercial vehicle to replace the Sprinter. (Ducato) This segment will not be a problem once Daimler is cut loose completely. I honestly don’t know what Chrysler shall do with their mid-size and above and I could not care less. They would do well to create a new, original right-wheel-drive chassis on which a 300D and the next generation Charger and Challenger could ride with very special emphasis upon making a vehicle appropriate for taxi fleets and police duty. Ideally the fleet edition would even have its own badass styling with a big Chrysler roof and Dodge anything-but-cute lines everywhere else. GM and Ford don’t seem to be particularly interested in fleets anymore.

Somehow, albeit in its sixth form since 1980, I think Chrysler is going to make it.


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