The relatively new manufacturing partnership between Chrysler and Fiat will get a public test next month. An electric version of the Fiat 500, and a Lancia Delta with a grille from Chrysler will be shown off on the American automaker's stand at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
By showing off a Fiat 500 EV, Chrysler will be taking a calculated gamble: that American consumers looking for a small urban car may be the first customers to consider buying an all-electric. This directly rivals the thinking behind the Chevrolet Volt, which seems to be more interested in attracting suburbanites. Reaction to this debut may dictate whether a 500 EV could eventually go on sale in the States.
This also marks the North American debut for a few other 500 models. Chrysler will also wheel out the Fiat 500C convertible and the Fiat 500 Abarth. Already shown earlier in the year, the 500 hatchback hits the NA market in 2010, with the 500C going on sale in 2011. North and Central American 500 cars will be assembled in Toluca, Mexico, with a 100-horsepower 1.4-liter FIRE engine coming from a plant in Michigan. A turbocharged version, producing up to 175 hp, will be branded for Abarth.
More symbolic is the Lancia Delta introduction. The very European-looking mid-size hatchback represents the first step in Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to merge Lancia and Chrysler. Also on the Chrysler stand will be the Ferrari 458 Italia and Maserati GranCabrio. Both luxury brands have Fiat for a parent.
Each vehicle goes on display in Detroit beginning January 11.