DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A. design executives will begin meeting this week to determine the North American portfolio created by their new alliance.
This week and the months following we will meet with the design studios at Fiat and figure out what vehicles from the Fiat stable will be adapted to the U.S. market, said Ralph Gilles, Chrysler design vice president. He spoke at the Automotive News World Congress last night, a day after the two companies said Fiat would take a 35 percent stake in Chrysler.
Gilles said Fiat is very strong in the small-car segments known as the A, B and C segments in Europe, so vehicles that size make sense for Chrysler. Fiats Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati brands will not be part of the alliance.
There may be situations where we can bring their vehicles in as is and there will be great opportunities to do products based on the Fiat DNA, he said.
When you look at our portfolio, he said, it is somewhat truck heavy, very practical vehicles, SUVs, four-wheel-drive. Great for this climate, but maybe not the overall solution that we need. So they come in and complement us.
Rebadging some Fiat vehicles is an option. There are some natural fits where it may make sense, but right now we are in a very broad investigation mode. We are looking at all the opportunities, he said.
One car in particular that may be imported is the Fiat 500, a popular small car in Europe that draws on the styling themes of the 1960s Fiat 500.
The Fiat 500 has taken Europe by storm. They cant make it fast enough. Gilles said he and his wife drove the 500. It is such a fun package. I think Americans, given the chance, will fall in love with this thing, he said.
Gilles said the lines of communication between the Chrysler and Fiat studios are wide open.
There is a lot of collaboration going on. The guys are really enthusiastic. They want to see what we got, and I want to see what they got. That is pretty much where it is right now, he said.
The passion inside Fiat is amazing. I mean, from their Formula One cars, the Alfa Romeo lines, the new 500, you can see that design is a real big deal over there. The Italians are known for design. I am pretty enthused by it, he said.
Gilles is an Alfa Romeo enthusiast. His favorite car? The 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV.
I used to have this car. I sold this car and I still miss it to this day. What a passionate product. Still a pretty timeless car.