Fiat to build crossover on 500 platformFri, 30 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Fiat plans to start production of a crossover variant of its 500 minicar next year. The new model will be called the 500X, with the letter X standing for cross, company sources told Automotive News Europe.
The car will replace the Sedici in Fiat's Europe lineup. Like the Sedici, it will have SUV and hatchback styling. Plans for selling the 500X in the United States are unclear right now.
The 500X will be the fifth variant in the 500 range, joining the 500 three-door hatchback, Abarth performance version, 500C convertible and the 500L four-door, high-roof hatchback.
At about 165 inches long, the 500X will be the longest model in the 500 family. Like the 500L it will use a widened version of Fiat's small vehicle architecture that underpins the Punto subcompact.
The 500L will be built in Fiat's Mirafiori plant in Turin and will be the first variant of the current 500 range built in Italy. The Sedici is built alongside its sister model, the Suzuki SX4, at the Japanese automaker's factory in Hungary. The 500 three-door is built in Poland for European markets and by Chrysler in Mexico for America and China.
Fiat plans to begin production of the 500X in December 2013, part of a $1.33 billion (1 billion euros) expansion of the Mirafiori plant's capacity to build 280,000 small crossovers a year.
The 500X will be built alongside a new Jeep small SUV, code-named B-SUV, which will go into production in the second quarter of 2014. The B-SUV will be smaller than the Jeep Compass and Patriot and will be sold in the United States, Europe and other markets.
The 500X will be offered with front- and all-wheel-drive variants. The Jeep sister model will also come with a Trail Rated version, crucial for the U.S. market.
For Europe, the Fiat 500X and the Jeep B-SUV will be offered with Fiat's 900cc two-cylinder and 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines, as well as with the latest evolution of the company's 1.3-liter diesel, called MultiJet II.
Fiat needs a replacement for the aging Sedici, whose sales in Europe fell 10 percent to 14,761, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics.
By Luca Ciferri- Automotive News Europe