Despite what may be a decidedly mixed record as a car brand in the American marketplace, Italian carmaker Fiat is set to return, according to Bloomberg News: The company's Fiat 500 sub-compact will be released to the public this winter.
Many older Americans may remember Fiat as a make plagued by mechanical problems, driving up repair costs and auto insurance rates. Some owners joked that the name "Fiat" was an acronym for "Fix it again, Tony."
However, Fiat also enjoyed the perception for some time as a sporty, exciting brand which made cars to match, and the Turin-based manufacturer still has a number of devotees in the U.S. One of those, Long Island attorney Sam Germana, test-drove one of the European models of the car Fiat is bringing to the U.S.
"The Fiat is put together like a Toyota, it is really solid. It was a blast to drive," Germana said, according to Bloomberg. The news agency also reported that Germana was among the consumers who paid $500 to reserve a special first edition of the 500.
The 500, Bloomberg News reports, will compete with the Ford Fiesta and the as-yet-unreleased Chevrolet Spark. Its appeal will be based on strong mileage and affordability, and it will be produced at a converted Chrysler factory in Auburn Hills, Michigan, near Detroit. (The Italian company acquired Chrysler less than two years ago during the depth of the economic crisis.)
While the reliability of the new Fiat 500 remains to be seen, it seems clear that the car will help produce a healthy competition among manufacturers targeting the increasingly important sub-compact market.