Chrysler to Unveil Electric Fiat 500 at Next Month’s Detroit Auto Show

Chrysler Group has announced that it provide a glimpse of upcoming collaborations with Fiat S.p.A. when it unveils two new models at next month’s Detroit Auto Show. On exhibition will be the Lancia Delta mid-size hatchback and an electric version of the much anticipated Fiat 500 minicar.

Although Chrysler has no immediate plans to offer the vehicles to U.S. buyers, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says that he plans to merge the Chrysler and Lancia brands eventually. Both are currently under the direction of Olivier Francois, who assumed the title of brand CEO when Fiat was granted a controlling share in the troubled U.S. automaker this past summer.

Sources close to the company say Chrysler’s exhibition space at the upcoming auto show will also feature Fiat luxury-sport models, the Ferrari 458 Italia and Maserati GranCabrio. Chrysler spokesman, Gualberto Ranieri, would not confirm which Fiat models will be featured.

He did, however, confirm that Chrysler does not plan to hold a press conference in conjunction with the show. The decision to forego a press event was prompted by the fact that Chrysler will have no new production vehicles on exhibit at the event. Ranieri said that top Chrysler executives, including Marchionne, will be in attendance during the January 11 media preview day and that they will be available for interviews.

In addition to the electric version of the Fiat 500, U.S. audiences will get their first viewing of the entire Fiat 500 lineup which includes the 500C cabriolet and 500 Abarth performance model. The cabriolet is scheduled to appear in U.S. dealer showrooms in 2011.

Chrysler previewed the four-door 500 hatchback at the New York Auto Show this past April. At 139.6 inches, the hatchback version is just 33 inches longer than the SmartForTwo minicar. Chrysler plans to begin selling the hatchback model in the U.S. beginning in late 2010.

The Fiat 500 will be built at Chrysler’s production facilities in Toluca, Mexico beginning late next year. The company has estimated initial capacity to reach 100,000 units per year with approximately half to be marketed in North America and half to be sold in Latin America.

The 500 minicar will be powered by a 1.4-liter engine using Fiat’s FIRE (fully integrated robotized) technology that delivers from approximately 100 hp to about 175 hp from the turbocharged version which will be available in the Abarth high performance model.

The FIRE engines will be built by Chrysler at its engine production facilities in Dundee, Michigan beginning in late 2010.

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