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Old 13-05-2009   #76
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

I have vivid recollections of adverts in Car and Driver, Road and Track and Car Craft showing people gazing in amazement under the hood of the latest Charger or Challenger as they looked at the latest 7 litre + (396?) Hemi V8. The fact that the rest of the range ran on nylon belted cross ply tyres and drum brakes was neither here nor there.

Performance sells.

About 4 years ago I rented a car in Baltimore. I was told it would be something like a Pontiac Grand Am or Dodge Intrepid. What I got was Focus; with a trunk. It was a 4 cylinder, probably a 2 litre and had a really powerful stereo and an even more powerful A/C and a slush box. What amazed me was that the Focus 1.6 Zetec I had at home had remote central locking, electric front windows, alloy wheels, remote boot release and electric mirrors. None of which its US cousin had. I don't know if this was a Hertz "special" or not, but after a friend and his family went to live in New York State for a year in the '70s and he came back with stories of their Cadillac Eldorado with its automatic headlights, wipers, auto dipping rear-view mirror, electric windows, central locking and electric seats; this came as a bit of a surprise. I know an Eldorado isn't a Focus, but 1975 wasn't 2005.

I don't think that "Longer, lower, wider, faster" is the important mantra it once was, but it's spirit is alive and well and living in the US.

As an aside, while sitting outside a hotel in Charleston South Carolina one evening, I heard the sound of a diesel pulling up a few yards away. Looking up I saw a guy getting out of a Dodge RAM pick up. On speaking to him he told me he'd just bought it and driven from Texas. He said it had the Cummins B series diesel and had had the engine management system "interfered with" to use his words. It was to marine spec, in other words, 425BHP. The only problem was that as it was a manual, the clutch kept slipping when he gave it full throttle. For those that might not know, the B series is a 5.9 litre straight 6 that is normally used in trucks up to around 18 tonnes. For that vehicle, putting a 2.4 JTD in it just wouldn't work and to put an IVECO engine it would be to show a fundamental lack of understanding of the American automotive psyche.
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Last edited by The Beard; 13-05-2009 at 20:13.
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Old 13-05-2009   #77
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Originally Posted by The Beard View Post
What amazed me was that the Focus 1.6 Zetec I had at home had remote central locking, electric front windows, alloy wheels, remote boot release and electric mirrors. None of which its US cousin had. I don't know if this was a Hertz "special" or not...
Yep, that's a hertz special. One could probably order one from the Ford factory all stripped out like that, but it would be hard to find it on a car lot, except maybe as the low price one they advertize in the paper to get people to come in. Oddly I can't get the Ford website to list standard equipment on its most base Focus.

What's not a 'hertz special' is the trunk. They stopped making the hatch version in 2007--really ruined the styling after that too. Also, we never got a really hot focus here. I think the 170hp SVT version that we had for a few years was about the fastest, where 140hp is the current hot one. I guess it's not too big of a surprise though, hot 3-door focus models would directly compete for the exact same customers looking at the mustang line.
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Last edited by Reaperman; 13-05-2009 at 20:47.
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Old 13-05-2009   #78
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Originally Posted by Reaperman View Post
What's not a 'hertz special' is the trunk. They stopped making the hatch version in 2007--really ruined the styling after that too. Also, we never got a really hot focus here. I think the 170hp SVT version that we had for a few years was about the fastest, where 140hp is the current hot one. I guess it's not too big of a surprise though, hot 3-door focus models would directly compete for the exact same customers looking at the mustang line.
TBF the current Hot Focus with 300bhp would decimate most mustangs in the twisties like..

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Old 14-05-2009   #79
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

And everyone knows you cant have a car in america that goes round corners properly
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Old 14-05-2009   #80
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Originally Posted by Ulpian View Post
Yes, but if the engine is giving its all you have nothing left in reserve, and wouldn't it be better to have a bit of wallop left just in case?

Fiat has to create a good first impression. They have only one chance.
In the UK anything between 12 and 10 seconds to 60mph is considered a "normal" everyday car. These are perfectly adequate at joining the motorway at 70mph.
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Old 14-05-2009   #81
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

I'm not entirely sure whether the Focus RS/ST or whatever would compete with the Mustang. I think it would be more likely to have a go at BMWs and Nissan Skylines, Subaru Imprezas, Mitsi Evos and the like.

I can't help but feel that there needs to be a certain amount of seperation between FIAT and Chrysler. There will always be a market for American cars as well as one for imports. To use a Biblical analogy; Give unto Ceaser that which is Ceaser's and give unto God that which is God's. Or words to that effect.

I see no reason why you can't have American Chryslers with Italian influences yet market Alfa/FIAT/Lancia seperately. A bit like having a domestic brand in one part of the showroom and an import range in another. Which is probably what will happen. A danger would be putting an Italian V6 in an Alfa and a Dodge Intrepid, or whatever the mid-size model will be called as the "exoticness" of the Alfa would be degraded.

On my last trip (alright only trip) across the Pond, I saw a lot of BMWs, Mercedes, Audis and Jags in New York and a few in Baltimore, but the only ones I saw in Charleston were from out of town. I think you could sell FIAT group products in the big metropolitan areas but maybe not in the smaller towns and rural areas so to give the Chryslers too much in the way of European content would alienate a lot of people and drive them into the arms of GM and the blue oval.
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Old 14-05-2009   #82
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Originally Posted by Hellcat View Post
Why do they need more power?

Is a requirement for all american cars that they must double as race cars during the weekends?

With a lower national speed limit than here for a lot of the country the smaller engines will be perfect.

We originally needed the extra power because our cars were two to three times larger and heavier than yours. Then came automatic transmissions, power steering, airco, vinyl covered opening moon roofs with coach lamps and feature windows and on and on. A lot of us still drive cars with 5.7 or thereabouts V-8's. Some of us older folks can remember being able to go into any dealer for US brand cars and being able to buy engines between 6 and 8.2 litres, so we're used to having a little something underfoot when we want it. Seriously, compare a Morris Minor to any contemporary US car. My personal favorite American car is the 1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser with the 400 (SAE) HP 430 cubic inch or 7 litre engine. Hey, it made sense as distances are long and our gasoline only cost around seven US cents or 5 pence a litre back then. Of course back then there were 240 pence to the pound and a pound cost us $2.80 or so, so the figure of 5 pence is at today's exchange rates as I'm not certain I could figure out the math do get the correct rate for the time.
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Old 14-05-2009   #83
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Quote:
In the UK anything between 12 and 10 seconds to 60mph is considered a "normal" everyday car. These are perfectly adequate at joining the motorway at 70mph.
This is considered slow in America, and Fiat has to establish itself as being a cut above adequate and 'normal'. They have the engines, so why not use them? The reasons for underpowered engines in the UK (insurance, tax) don't exist in the US; and remember, tiny engines working hard are usually not any more economical.

In Britain Fiat has a habit of introducing cars with gutless motors (Doblo and Qubo spring to mind) and then wondering why the press reviews them poorly. Both the Doblo and the Qubo have been pilloried as being the slowest cars on the market. Yes, the proper engines were fitted later (Doblo); but you only have one chance to make a first impression so why not take it?
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Last edited by Ulpian; 14-05-2009 at 14:57.
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Old 14-05-2009   #84
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

If anyone seriously believes that fuel will stay cheap for America then they've probably been working as risk advisors for banks.

Lighter cars with more efficient, smaller engines are the future. It's better technology. It's less likely to destroy the earth.

Of course you could stay in the dark ages.
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Old 14-05-2009   #85
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

A 1.2 Panda 4x4 is inadequate here for anything but very specific needs. To succeed in the US it will need more power, which, given the new technology, shouldn't cost more in fuel - the opposite in fact.

The Tjets will soon be uprated to 135 and 165 bhp respectively, with reduced consumption. Ditto the rest of the engine range. These will also offer enhanced performance, so

Quote Quote:
Lighter cars with more efficient, smaller engines are the future. It's better technology. It's less likely to destroy the earth.
is exactly what I have been talking about, and

Quote Quote:
Of course you could stay in the dark ages.
is unnecessary.
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Old 14-05-2009   #86
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

I think Americans are more in love with the idea of high performance cars rather than the performance itself. During our short (3 week ) stay in the US, what struck me was how almost everybody from taxi drivers to those in big private cars accelerated at the speed of a glacier. Conversly, seeing as the speed limit in Maryland was 65mph, everyone, including the big trucks was going faster than me. Perhaps I was worried the local Sherrif might have been a little too keen to introduce me to his friends; Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.

So, slow acceleration but high speeds 85-95mph. My Panda diesel will do 100. This is why I think the US market needs cars with big engines. Not because they actually need the performance, simply that they want others to believe they do.

Mind you, the market survived 5.7 litre (350 CID) that put out 165 BHP in the late '70s as emission controls started to take effect. A comparable Euro Ford or GM product put out as much if not more from a higher tech 2.8 to 3.0 litre motor.
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Old 14-05-2009   #87
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

American has big engines because:
- they can afford to run them.
- they like to have enough power to burn the neighbours off
- Jumping in the car and driving for 8hours is normal (usually with atleast 4 supersize occupants)

Most of us are struggling to our fiats to start up and run after 40000miles and 3 years this is not the way to crack the US. This is why most euro brands are seen as unreliable over there, forget the 'feel' of the plastic trim the cars have to cover distance, the A/C has to work everytime it is switched on, suspension bushes are not a service part, neither are powersteering pumps or any other cut price part Fiat fit because over here there is a dealer on every corner to fix the car.

Here is the biggest sticking point......the US is 100% based on customer service. I work for a major Italian OEM in Italy and have very close ties with our US importer, the Italian way of providing service back-up is at complete odds with what is demanded in America.
Fiat are nearly always at the bottom of the dealer ratings and customer satisfaction in the JD power surveys, let Fiat listen to Chrysler on this point and we might all benefit!!


I was wondering if just Alfa or just Fiat might go to the states, 1 new Italian brand is probably enough to get the sales kicked off.
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Old 15-05-2009   #88
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Alfa IS going to the states and some of them will be made there. The brand is not exactly new there even though none have been sold for some yearxs now except for a handful of the new 8C models that are sold and serviced at Ferrari/Maserati garages.

Other than the 500, I suspect that present Fiats sold in the USA will have Mopar badging; Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep.
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Old 15-05-2009   #89
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

Quote Originally Posted by ivantate View Post
American has big engines because:
- they can afford to run them.
- they like to have enough power to burn the neighbours off
- Jumping in the car and driving for 8hours is normal (usually with atleast 4 supersize occupants)

Most of us are struggling to our fiats to start up and run after 40000miles and 3 years this is not the way to crack the US. This is why most euro brands are seen as unreliable over there, forget the 'feel' of the plastic trim the cars have to cover distance, the A/C has to work everytime it is switched on, suspension bushes are not a service part, neither are powersteering pumps or any other cut price part Fiat fit because over here there is a dealer on every corner to fix the car.

Here is the biggest sticking point......the US is 100% based on customer service. I work for a major Italian OEM in Italy and have very close ties with our US importer, the Italian way of providing service back-up is at complete odds with what is demanded in America.
Fiat are nearly always at the bottom of the dealer ratings and customer satisfaction in the JD power surveys, let Fiat listen to Chrysler on this point and we might all benefit!!

Struggling to start and run a 3 year old car? You got a duff one there mate...
American mileages are higher but to rack up a high mileage you need to spend a lot of time on the interstate...which is not exactly a car breaker the car gets warmed up so exhaust is happy, brakes and suspension are hardly punished at all and the engine gets to sit at a nice steady RPM in top gear. Given those conditions wear and tear on a car thats done 150k+ will probably be less than a car thats done a third less mileage going 'round the doors' in Europe.
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Old 15-05-2009   #90
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Re: Today's deal between FIAT and Chrysler

What ivantate said about reliability is true though. Breaking cambelts, water pump failures that take out the whole engine, failing suspension bushes, jamming doorlocks, breaking wiper mechanisms, iffy paintwork and samll component failure will not be tolerated, especially in Italian cars which have it all to prove. Don't forget, they have the Honda Jazz (Fit) and a host of Japanese and Korean small cars, and their reliability is the benchmark.

Americans are happy to change their oil three times a year, but the quid pro quo is that they accept no failure of a component necessary to the daily use of the car. Yes, they hate cheap plastics and poor panel fit, but they will tolerate this in exchange for dirt cheap cars that don't break.

It will be interesting to see how Fiat/Alfa specs its product for the US. We know the models they are going to sell, but not yet the details.
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