TURIN -- Fiat is considering whether to export some Europe-built products to the US prior to starting local production there in mid-2011.
We are currently working on a plan to begin shipping the Fiat 500 minicar and the Alfa Romeo 940-project [the code-name of the 147 entry-premium replacement] to the US in about a year from now, a person familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe under condition of anonymity.
According to the source, the numbers of these two models shipped from Europe would be just some thousand units each. They would simply be a precursor to building a larger volume of cars starting in mid-2011 under a proposed alliance with Chrysler.
If the proposed alliance with Chrysler is finalized, the US automaker will begin building the Fiat 500 at its plant in Toluca, Mexico, and the Alfa 940 at an as-yet unspecified US location.
Selected US Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealers would distribute the Fiat and Alfa models, the source said.
The proposed alliance would give Chrysler access to four Fiat platforms for production in North America. The cars range in size from minicars to upper-medium models with gasoline engines ranging from 1.4 to 1.8 liters.
At the same time, Fiat is considering whether to base its oft-delayed Alfa 169 upper-premium model on a Chrysler platform.
The Italian automaker is looking at the LX platform that underpins the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger as the basis for the Alfa 169.
This possible Chrysler-based Alfa would also use a beefed-up version of the Chrysler Phoenix engine, a new, all-alloy V-6 gasoline unit due next year.
The 169 will eventually replace the Alfa 166, a model that Fiat discontinued in Europe in spring 2007.