With the Chrysler bankruptcy and reorganization taking place at break-neck pace in a federal courtroom, new Fiat designed Chrysler products might be available to public in as little as 18 months. Under the terms being worked out, the UAW workers union will get a 55% share in ownership of the company, the federal government 8%, and governments in Canada and Ontario both will get 2% ownership shares. Fiat will get a 20% share in the company, but that might eventually rise to a total 41% share if the government get paid back for their bailout funds.
Fiat has always had very serious marketing difficulties in North America, so this new bid to become part owner of Chrysler and revamp their car line with more fuel efficient models, will also give Fiat an opportunity to market their imported cars that do very well in Europe in sales. It will give both Chrysler a second chance to succeed as well as Fiat a second chance to improve their U.S. marketing.
Just like the mid70's when Chrysler marketed too many larger cars that got poor fuel mileage and their sales suffered and the company nearly went under for the first time requiring a government bailout, this latest crisis for Chrysler came from marketing too many larger cars, SUVs and trucks with poor mileage just when gas prices spiked a few months ago as well as the recession taking a huge bite out of Chrysler sales. During both of these crisis moments for Chrysler, the company was totally unprepared for the current market conditions, and had the wrong sorts of vehicles to market in a market hostile to larger vehicles with poor mileage.
The tiny Fiat 500 could be one of the first Fiat models to be sold in the U.S. once problems with safety and air pollution emissions are solved for the American market. The model is even smaller than the very popular BMW designed Mini Cooper cars sold here. And America seems to have a love affair for retro-styled cars, of which this latest 500 model is a new version of a longtime classic model once sold by Fiat.
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