Mini’s Jim McDowell provides insights for Chrysler on Fiat 500

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 18, 2012

There are many speculations on the failure of Chrysler to have a good start with the Fiat 500. Even Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is second-guessing himself. Jim McDowell, the U.S. boss at Mini, has provided words of advice for Fiat. Mini was the brand of small vehicles that Fiat had wished to emulate.

McDowell shared that one has to take it "a little spoonful by a little spoonful." Fiat has to lower its sights. Last year, Marchionne predicted that Fiat would sell 50,000 500s in North America. However, it finished the year at 26,294 units. When Mini was launched here 10 years ago, 24,590 units were sold. Last year, it achieved record sales with 57,511 units, including several versions.

McDowell related that Marchionne underestimated what it takes to establish the dealer network and what it takes for acceptance.

In addition, McDowell stated that it isn’t a good idea to use a sexy pop siren like Jennifer Lopez in the commercials, which attempt to appeal to women.

The newly revamped Fiat 500 will be coming to America soon. The Italian-made Cinquecento is redesigned to perfectly suit American tastes with its vivacious charm and agility. The Fiat 500 Sport in the pictures displays the stylishly smart Fiat design language. The new Cinquecento carries forward the original Fiat 500’s classic appeal from a half-century ago while embodying modern confident individuality as expressed through its premium workmanship.

New Cinquecento is specially tailored to appeal to North American customers, many of whom desire a fashionably designed car that is also functional and practical. The Fiat 500 Sport features sport-tuned suspension and matching sportily-designed front and rear fasciae with an enlarged grille and flared but streamlined shapes. The Cinquecento’s new side sill cladding enhances the car’s sporty character and is set between distinctive 16-inch aluminium wheels with Mineral Grey painted pockets.

Also adding to the car’s dynamic appeal are its Performance Red painted brake callipers, a chrome exhaust tip and glossy black shadow-line window trim. The Fiat 500 Sport may also be fitted with a SkyDome power sun roof for those who want a wide-open outside view. There will also be Pop and Lounge models of the Fiat 500 which carry distinctive external details and different sets of equipment.

Fiat 500 Sport is powered by the brand’s renowned 1.4-liter engine featuring innovative MultiAir technology, which significantly decreases emissions and increases fuel efficiency and power delivery by approximately 10 percent versus engines.

The Fiat 500's equipment, systems, drivability and interior features have been smartly optimised for the North American consumer. It should appeal to small-car buyers who are particular about fashion and exclusivity. Orders for the new-generation Fiat 500 Sport, Pop and Lounge models will begin later this year, while the all-new Fiat 500C (cabrio) will follow in the spring of 2011.

Topics: mini, chrysler, fiat 500

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