Chrysler Group LLC Celebrates Production of the All-New 2012 Fiat 500

Mar 07, 2011, 12:30 ET from Chrysler Group LLC

MEXICO CITY, March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --  

  • Mexican President joins Chrysler Group CEO to acknowledge Company's commitment to Mexico
  • Significant launches and investments across the company in 2010 set foundation for 2011
  • New Fiat 500 heads to North and South America; Exports to China to begin in third quarter 2011

Together with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne celebrated the launch of the all-new 2012 Fiat 500 today at Los Pinos, the official residence and office of Mexico's President.

Marchionne, President Calderon, and Chrysler de Mexico President and CEO Joe ChamaSrour joined other local officials and employees from the Toluca Assembly Plant where the Fiat 500 is built to recognize the importance of the plant, the workforce and the all-new vehicle in the future success of the Company. The Fiat 500 is one of 16 all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles and one of two new nameplates Chrysler Group launched in 2010.

"A little more than a year ago, I promised President Calderon that I would be back to celebrate the launch of the Fiat 500 and I am pleased that I could keep that promise today," said Marchionne. "With the assistance of the Mexican government, we have been able to prepare the Toluca Assembly Plant for production of the first Fiat, a vehicle that demonstrates the level of cooperation between our two companies and reintroduces the brand to the North American market after more than 28 years."

Marchionne announced in February 2010 that the company would invest $550 million USD, with the assistance of loans from the Mexican government, to build the new Fiat model in its Toluca plant. With that investment, Chrysler Group added 622 jobs to support production. The plant will build more than 120,000 vehicles for export to the United States, Canada, and South America, as well as to China by the third quarter of 2011.

"Fiat 500 production here is an important landmark because it reaffirms Chrysler's commitment to Mexico that dates back to 1938," said Marchionne. "Mexico is in an ideal position for production of this car. Because of its free-trade agreements with neighbors to both the north and south, it is a bridge between NAFTA and Latin America.

"And for the Mexican market, where the 500 has already been sold for several years, this marks an important shift from a vehicle imported from Europe to one that is built locally," said Marchionne.

Today, Chrysler has nearly 7,000 employees and six plants in Mexico, among which the Company builds Ram trucks and the all-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine in Saltillo, as well as stamping operations.

In addition, Chrysler de Mexico has been overseeing distribution of the Fiat brand in the country since October 2010.

Chrysler Group Investments Prepare for Future Growth

In addition to the $550 million investment in Toluca, Chrysler Group has invested more than $3 billion USD in its U.S. and Canadian facilities and has made significant progress toward building a successful enterprise since June 2009, including: 

  • reporting an operating profit of $763 million USD for total year 2010;
  • reporting the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases in the U.S. in February;
  • investing nearly $1.3 billion USD into the Company's existing transmission manufacturing facilities in Kokomo, Ind., to accommodate production of a new advanced front-wheel drive automatic transmission; increase capacity and support production of the World Engine and improve processes for the 62TE transmission program; and accommodate future production of a new highly fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission;
  • announcing a $600 million USD investment in its Belvidere Assembly Plant;
  • confirming an investment of $850 million USD in its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and surrounding stamping facilities;
  • planning an investment of $150 million USD in its GEMA (Dundee, Mich.) facility;
  • adding a second shift of production – or nearly 1,100 jobs – at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant;
  • announcing an investment of $27.2 million USD in its Etobicoke Casting Plant (Toronto) to produce front and rear crossmembers for future Chrysler vehicles starting in the third quarter 2011;
  • announcing that it would add nearly 900 jobs on a second shift at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in the first quarter of 2011;
  • launching the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in May 2010;
  • beginning production of the all-new Fiat 500 in December 2010;
  • launching production of the all-new 2011 Dodge Durango, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger in December 2010, and the 2011 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger in January;
  • announcing in December 2009 that it will invest $179 million USD to launch production of the 1.4-liter, 16-valve Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) at the company's Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Mich., creating more than 150 new Chrysler jobs.

About the New 2012 Fiat 500

With beautiful Italian styling, timeless functionality, efficient design and innovative technology – the same attributes that made the original version an icon – the new Fiat 500 is relevant for an entirely new generation of drivers.

Modernizing the successful formula from its past, the new Fiat 500 caters to an entirely new generation who want their vehicle to be as engaging, individualized, ecologically responsible and technologically savvy as they are.

The new 2012 Fiat 500 offers high levels of safety, fuel economy, quality and advanced technology. With its city-friendly four-passenger A-segment size, engaging driving dynamics, all-new fuel-efficient 1.4-liter MultiAir® engine with eco:Drive™ Application, state-of-the-art TomTom® Navigation with BLUE&ME™ Handsfree Communication technology and seven standard air bags, the new Fiat 500 offers a driving and ownership experience unlike anything available today. This package is further enhanced with new quality and refinement adaptations for the U.S. market, including an all-new six-speed automatic transmission.

About Fiat

The Fiat brand is synonymous with modern, simple "Italian" design, and its models offer unique "world-class technological solutions. The brand is known for the development of environmentally friendly cars, and its wide product range in Europe includes agile city cars, compact and midsize vehicles, station wagons and has been the source of many success stories such as the Fiat 500 (Cinquecento). For the last three years, Fiat was the lowest CO2 producer among Europe's best-selling automotive brands, and the Fiat 1.4-liter MultiAir™ turbo engine was named "Best New Engine of the Year" in 2010.

The reintroduction of the Fiat brand in North America is led by the modern generation of the Fiat 500, followed by the Fiat 500C (cabrio) in spring.

About the Toluca Assembly Plant

Construction of the Toluca Assembly Plant was completed in 1968. The plant has been producing various Chrysler vehicles for domestic and export markets since that time. The plant produced the Chrysler PT Cruiser from 2000 until July 2010. Production of the Dodge Journey began in January 2008 and the Fiat 500 in December 2010.

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SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC