Chrysler To Turn a Corner, Maybe

I saw this headline in the NY Times today – Chrysler Lost $4 Billion but Sees Signs of Improvement.  What?  Now that’s an optimistic outlook and refreshing.  A car company out to improve.  But how?

Apparently Chrysler-Fiat plans to reintroduce the Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands to the U.S. market and clean fuel efficiency technology including some diesel engines. Alfa Romeo would roll out an S.U.V. and a small roadster looking machine called the MiTo.  And Fiat has plans to sell the Fiat 500, which looks a little like a VW bug or one of those toy cars that you roll on the floor and then release.   Diesel, roadsters, S.U.V.’s, and a VW or Mini Cooper look alike. That’s the plan to turn Chrysler around?

First, Americans won’t buy diesel.  No way.  And diesel fuel is too expensive.  When I think of diesel, I think of a Mack truck.  And where can you buy diesel fuel?  No one wants to fill up a car at a truck stop.

Second, as long as we have a weak global economy and high gas prices, what kind of market is there for a new S.U.V., particularly an Alfa Romeo?  Most Americans are going to associate Alfa Romeo with exotic race cars.  No one is going to want to buy an exotic S.U.V.  And the MiTo.  I don’t think so.

Third, Fiat is not a brand with much of a reputation in the States.  Remember the Fiat X19 back in the late 70’s – early 80’s? I didn’t think so.  Japanese cars drove them right out of the market and the country.

I have an idea for Fiat.  Bring over the Fiat Panda.  Sell them cheaply.  Market them cleverly in urban areas where parking is difficult to find and expensive.  Do one in black with a white racing stripe or something.  Sell them to rental car companies and Zipcar.  And Fiat, don’t allow Chrysler to make cars anymore. Have them make boats, or outboard motors or skateboards, mopeds, anything but cars.   Have them sell Fiats (the Panda) anyway.  And maybe allow them to bring back the Dodge Dart and Dodge Colt, with Italian styling.

Looks a bit like a Yugo, no?

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