Following the announcement this week of a proposed acquisition of a 35% stake in Chrysler by Italy’s Fiat Group, Chrysler’s chief designer Ralph Gilles has given some insight into the thought processes going on behind locked doors at the two companies. Chrysler and Fiat execs are currently meeting to determine the North American portfolio created by their new alliance.

Speaking with Automotive News, Gilles revealed that in the months that will follow, Chrysler execs will visit the design studios at Fiat and figure out what vehicles from the Italian auto giant are most suitable for the North American market. Unfortunately, the Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati brands will not be part of the alliance.

Gilles said Fiat is very strong in the small-car segments known as the A, B and C segments in Europe, so vehicles that size "make sense for Chrysler." The Chrysler design chief also said there will be opportunities to do products “based on the Fiat DNA.”

Gilles also revealed that rebadging some Fiat vehicles is an option. "There are some natural fits where it may make sense, but right now we are in a very broad investigation mode. We are looking at all the opportunities," he said.

One model from Fiat that has a very strong chance of being sold in the United States is the 500 minicar, which has been reported to be heading here for months. "It is such a fun package. I think Americans, given the chance, will fall in love with this thing," he said.

According to previous reports, the 500 could be in local showrooms within 18 months if given the green light today. The car would be sold in Chrysler or Dodge dealerships and would serve as a marketing tool to get customers, especially those that would never have previously entered a Chrysler or Dodge showroom, walking through the doors.