Fiat to Build a 'Baby' Jeep, Fiat Derivative in Italy
By Luca Ciferri, Automotive News Europe
Fiat will build a "baby" Jeep in Italy to sell in Europe and possibly also the United States, two company sources told Automotive News Europe.
The new Jeep will be smaller than the Patriot and Compass. The model will be produced in Fiat's home plant of Mirafiori in Turin, alongside a similar vehicle for the Fiat brand that will replace the Sedici and an Alfa Romeo subcompact car for sale in Europe and North America.
Fiat had initially planned to build in Mirafiori the replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot and an Alfa SUV that would have shared systems and components with the Jeep model.
The change of strategy implies that the single model to replace the Patriot and Compass and its Alfa sibling will be manufactured in the United States. Jeep currently builds the Patriot and Compass in Belvidere, Ill.
Fiat declined to give details on which models will be built in Mirafiori as part of a refurbishment of the factory, but the automaker is developing smaller models to meet an increasing demand for downsized vehicles, especially in Europe.
In a statement issued on Monday, Fiat, which controls 53.5 percent of Chrysler Group, said it will remodel Mirafiori to build the most updated version of one of its three main architectures on which different nameplates for its various brands will be produced.
Development of the manufacturing infrastructure will begin in 2012 and production of the first nameplate, a Jeep SUV, is expected in the second half of 2013, it said.
The architecture to be installed in Mirafiori is internally called SUSW. It is a wider, U.S.-compliant version of Fiat's European Small architecture, which will debut next spring on two small minivans that Fiat will produce in Serbia to replace the Idea and Multipla models.
Fiat's group executive council made the production decisions for Mirafiori at meetings on Friday and Saturday, reversing a plan first announced in December 2010 to install in Mirafiori the bigger CUSW architecture.
CUSW is a wider, U.S. compliant version of Fiat's European Compact architecture that debuted last year on the Alfa Giulietta compact hatchback.
Mirafiori currently builds the Alfa MiTo 3-door subcompact, as well as the Fiat Idea and Lancia Musa small minivans.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement that refurbishing Mirafiori "is an important step in our plans to re-industrialize our Italian manufacturing backbone in view of current market developments and the increased distribution reach provided by Chrysler Group."
He added: "This leading-edge architecture will allow us to provide the most updated platforms for the development of our brands, and more importantly, will allow us to access the full powertrain offerings of both Fiat and Chrysler."
Content provided by AutoWeek.
Jeep has been making it hard to be a jeep fan recently...
Jeep has lost it's way, "Trail Rated" doesn't mean anything to them anymore, maybe it never did.
I am already saddened to see vehicles like the Compass and Patriot liking themselves to jeep, any more and I may have to just denounce Jeep entirely.
If they want a small jeep, can't they just go back to building CJs?
NOPE. This is a Jeep in brand-name only.
What Jeep desperately needs is a downsized Wrangler, not another glorified mini station wagon. Look at the original military jeeps: These were small, nimble vehicles. With roads getting worse and gas outrageously expensive, we need a burly little jeep today. But the Wrangler has gone exactly the opposite direction, getting bigger and more bloated every year with zero improvement in gas mileage.
It looked like Mini might steal the opportunity with the Countryman, but they wussed out a bit between concept vehicle and production. Still, it's the direction that Jeep should have jumped on and OWNED by now.
The new Jeep will be smaller than the Patriot and Compass.
I don't see how that's possible, while still keeping it as an SUV. The Compass is already pushing the bounds of what we call an SUV, as it's so small - and most of them are FWD. Since it's smaller than the Compass, guess they'll have to give it a name smaller than Compass. They will want to keep it along the lines of "things you take camping."
Jeep Chap-Stick, perhaps.
Someone tried that it was called a Suzuki samurai and that was a piece of junk and the fiat panda is an ugly piece of **** to!!!!! Look at the new fait it doesn't get any uglier then that!!!
I met one of Fiats R&D directors while in Sorrento Italy in 2010. He told me Fiats design team is located in Turkey and much of the 500 is built there also, he said the wages were cheaper there. Sounds familiar.
Jeep..... If it doesn't have a solid front axle then it's no longer a Jeep. It becomes a joke.
At one point there was hope that International was going to acquire Jeep, they understand what a Jeep should be........ solid axles, push rods, lockers, roll bars, 33" tires.
For an idea on how an SUV could be smaller than the Compass, look up the FIAT Panda. I have a hunch that the new Jeep Micro-SUV will probably be based on the Panda.
I didn't think I'd ever hear the words "Jeep" and "FIAT" in the same sentence. It's a good thing Halloween is right around the corner.
An unholy marriage if I ever saw one.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at email@example.com.