Chrysler is set to build as many as five versions of the Fiat 500 for sale in the North American market, according to reports from Italy. The move is the first concrete evidence of transatlantic co-operation between the two companies since Fiat’s takeover of the ailing US maker.
When the production starts in early 2011, Chrysler will build today’s 500 hatch (including the hot Abarth version) and cabrio as well as the upcoming baby estate, which is based on stretch version of the 500 platform. There is also a chance that Fiat will build a baby SUV based on the stretched 500 platform, though it has yet to be given the final go-ahead. The cars will be either built in either the US or at a Chrysler facility in Mexico. Although the 500 family will wear the Fiat badge, reports say that the Italian car maker has no plans to sell any other Fiat-badged models in North America. Fiat and Chrysler engineers will have to make a number of modifications to today’s 500 to allow it to be sold in the US. These will include changes to the engine’s emission levels, bumpers and headlights. Structural changes may be need for side and rear-impact performance.