Valley car dealer is gearing up to start selling the Italian Fiat 500 Micro car, a retro version of the 1950s model. The new Fiat of Scottsdale will start selling the three versions of the Fiat 500-- the Pop, Lounge and Sport-in late spring or early summer, according to Mary Leon, a Fiat specialist with the company.
The Fiat 500 microcar was unveiled in the U.S. in January as a 2012 model and the first one arrived in the Valley last weekend after an overnight trip from Michigan. Built in Toluca, Mexico, the car has already been unveiled in other U.S. cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, with sales expected to start in the spring.
Despite the weak economic climate, already more than 1,000 people have put their names on the waiting list be notified when the cars are available, according to Leon. People came in droves last weekend to take a look at the little red Fiat 500 Sport that the company displayed at the Arizona Wheels of Italy exotic car show at the Scottsdale 101 organized by the Arizona chapter of Ferrari Club of America to raise money for a local cancer charity.
The car comes with a 1.4-liter , four-cylinder engine, 101 horsepower and is available in both 5-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmission, according to Mary Robertson with Fiat of Scottsdale. It has an estimated EPA fuel economy of 34-38 mpg on the highway, depending on whether it is the automatic or manual version.
The segment hatchback known in Italy as Cinquecento is a retro version of the 1970s Fiat 500 and is designed to maintain that appeal. Earlier versions of the car have won such awards as World Car of the Year in 2009 and Best of Cars in Germany, Portugal and India.
The 2012 Fiat 500 comes with the Eco:drive software application that allows drivers to assess their driving habits.
"There are USB ports, in which you can insert a flash drive and it will record your driving habits," Robertson said while giving a tour of the interior of the car. The application records driving habits to your flash drive and when transferred to a computer makes an analysis and gives suggestions on how to improve your driving habits to boost your gas mileage.
With a price tag of $15,500 for the base version and $19,500 for the sports version, Leon is not concerned that the economic downturn will affect sales. "It's a car for everyone. It can be for moms, for the college student that wants to express their individuality, or a family car. People that are very individual are the type of people that are attracted to this kind of car," Leon says.
The Fiat 500 is expected to be key in the revival of Chrysler in the U.S. market after Fiat took over operational control during the restructuring of the company in 2009 by the Obama administration., Fiat recently increased its shares in Chrysler to 25 percent.