Fiat’s diminutive 500 is likely to be the first of the Italian models offered for U.S. saleEnlarge Photo
Transforming the Fiat vehicles into U.S.-compliant Chrysler models will take around 18 months, and during that time the future Chrysler models will undergo numerous changes to adapt from their European engineering to suit U.S. standards.
These changes affect major aspects of future Fiat-based Chrysler models. For example, airbags will have to be increased in size compared to European models due to differing laws between the U.S. and Europe. This may mean larger steering wheels are required to store the airbags, although Chrysler and Fiat may come up with a different solution, reports Automotive News.
The front bumper of the cars will also have to be reworked for some models, as the U.S. has stricter damage requirements than Europe. Similarly, U.S. variants of Fiat models will require more indicators and a specific type of headlamp to suit current legislation.
Engines may need to be retuned as well considering that Europe's methods for benchmarking engine performance, mileage and emissions standards differ from the U.S. Similarly, new crash tests will have to take place to meet U.S. requirements, rather than any European equivalents such as the EuroNCAP test.
At the moment, Chrysler is hoping to bring six vehicles based on Fiats to the U.S., which will be sold under the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands. The cars should begin arriving as early as 2011, but 2012 will likely be the year when we see a raft of new Fiat-based Chrysler vehicles hit American showrooms.