Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dan Neil reviews Fiat's 500 in the WSJ

A recent review by Dan Neil in the WSJ is about the new Fiat 500 car: "the 500 makes the SLK look like Brock Lesnar", how flattery!

An earlier version of that car was originally planned and designed in the 1950s in Mirafiori, the first production plant by Fiat in Torino.

Sixty years later, a 21st century make of the same car shoots across the pond to challenge the US car market, one with little fuel efficient for European standards, but also solid cars for long-distance driving. Surprises in both markets may come in the next decade, also thanks to the partnership between Chrysler and Fiat.

The old Fiat 500 has become a symbol of the post World War II economic boom in Italy. Inter alia, this led the management of Fiat to make migration of workers to Torino attractive to keep up with demand for cars, as well as mailing job offers to entires classes of students completing high school diplomas in technology subjects, one of whom was my dad!

The CEO Sergio Marchionne has so far seized the opportunity of jointly exploiting Fiat expertise with that of colleagues at Chrysler, as well as reminding Rawlsian-type union leaders in Italy that unions need to innovate, beyond playing nostalgic revolutionary songs, to win workers' votes. Will he be so canny to tweak the "500 and economic boom" correlation into causation!?

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