22 November 2010

FIAT 500: Over 500,000 Possible Combos!

Truly one-of-a-kind order takes about 30 days...

The personal expression made possible by the FIAT 500 options menu is sure to be a hit with US buyers, as FIAT aims to sell 50,000 of the cars here in the first year.

The 500's natural rival -BMW's Mini/Mini Cooper-  moved about 38,000 units last year... but the FIAT -with final assembly in North America- enjoys a dramatic $5000 price advantage over that product...

The car, which goes on sale in January, will be available in three versions—"Lounge," "Sport" and "Pop"—offering 14 exterior colors, 14 seat colors, six wheel styles and a range of graphical designs that can be applied to the car's body panels, allowing customers to make their Fiat just about the only one of its kind.

All told, there will be about a half a million combinations, Chrysler says.

Chrysler hopes the chance to individualize the tiny 500 will draw a wide range of customers, from teens buying their first car to baby-boomers downsizing to a smaller vehicle.
For those who don't want to wait, the company plans to hold a pool of the most popular versions that can be customized with features added at dealerships, such as stripes and checkerboard decals on the roof.

The 500 has a starting price of $15,500. The company plans to sell the model only in major urban markets, where most small cars are sold. New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are expected to be the 500's top five markets.

The 135 Fiat dealerships, or "studios" as Ms. Soave calls them, are decorated with tile and bold colors, designed to immerse customers in a modern Italian feel.

While the car is going by the English name 500 here and not "cinquecento" as it's pronounced in Italy, a little knowledge of Italian will help to sort through the color choices. Ivory-and-black seats, for example, are "avorio-nero" while the bright red exterior-color choice is "rosso brillante."

The 500 will feature a six-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual; a voice-activated stereo and information system; and large cup holders to cater to the U.S. market.

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