Many in the U.S. have been hoping to receive the wildly popular Fiat 500 minicar for the past couple of years but a lack of interest in small cars has largely held it back. Now, with Fiat's alliance with Chrysler in place the Italian auto giant has a gateway to the lucrative U.S. market and the first model to arrive under the new alliance will be the 500, though it’s launch is still more than six months away.
The 500 will be sold in Chrysler dealerships and it will be the only Fiat-badged model in the U.S. market, but it appears there will be several different variants, possibly up to four. The four models are likely to include the regular hatchback, the 500C convertible, a ‘Giardinetta' wagon, and the high-performance Abarth version.
While the hatchback and 500C are near-certainties for the U.S. market, a new report claims a four-door model is also headed our way, likely to be the Giardinetta wagon. This four-door model isn’t expected to be launched in Europe until the end of 2011 so any U.S. release won’t be until after that.
It is described as a compact minivan because of its hatchback rear opening and high roof design, and its footprint is both longer and wider than the regular 500 hatchback on which it’s based.
In addition to the four-door Fiat 500, a new compact sedan model may also be imported and sold under the Chrysler brand. More details should be revealed following the release of Fiat’s latest five-year plan on Wednesday the 21st.
[Automotive News, sub req’d]