News and Reviews

Italian, American…Australian

August, 2014


Image Source: Matthias93

Put a Chrysler 300C next to a Fiat 500 and you probably won’t find a more extreme odd couple. The 500’s nimble figure, tiny wheelbase and classic European design would look almost edible next to the 300C with its big, bold grille, opulent size and street presence. But the two vehicles now have more in common than appearances would lead you to believe.

Image Source: Public Domain

But first, more on the differences. It’s not just the way we see these two cars, it’s also the way we think about their pedigrees. Australians have been perving on Italian makes for decades, admiring their sexy curves and out-there designs from Alfa Romeo’s Spider Roadster to the 1964 Fiat 850 coupe. There’s just something about them, intangibility; they simply ooze exoticism, refinement and history. But the same can’t necessarily be said for our friends from America.

The U.S exports are better known for their range, size and adaptability. Think about the Chrysler Grand Voyager, the perennial luxury people mover or the PT Cruiser, an ambiguous amalgam of hatchback, cabriolet, runabout and weekender. They’re great cars, but they don’t quite capture our imaginations like the Europeans do.

So what would happen if you crossed these two cultures? If you combined their global resources and shared technologies, just as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is championing.

You’d get Fiat Chrysler Australia, the new distributors of Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Fiat Commercial in the land down under.

The new distribution agreement comes following a deal between Fiat and Chrysler wherein the Italian company finalised the acquisition of the American automaker for $4.35 billion at the start of 2014. Locally, this means that 17 passenger and 22 commercial vehicle dealerships now report directly to a Fiat Chrysler Australia Melbourne head office instead of to former distributor Ateco.

The Italian trifecta will join Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, hopefully re-awakening sales awareness and interest in the Giulietta, MiTo, 500 and Fiat’s commercial fleet.

It might be eons away until we see the day that Tuscan leather options become standard on a Cherokee or Compass, but the most exciting thing about the acquisition might just be the exposure this will create for the Italian hatches. Bolstered by an aggressive ‘Don’t Hold Back’ campaign and competitive pricing, Jeep along with its stable mates recorded 11, 931 vehicle sales last year, up 62.2% recorded in 2010. Can the Italians now expect the same kind of growth?

Whilst appearances may still be deceiving, it’s in high hopes that we see the cross over between Fiat and Chrysler increasing the number of sexy little Italians on the road.

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