fiat-500.jpgInteresting article in Business Week recently about Fiat, a brand that hasn’t been in the States for over 20 years, looking for a partner to help build Alfa’s and the Fiat 500.

>Italian automaker Fiat (FIA.MI) is looking for partners to manufacture its Alfa Romeo brand and its 500 subcompact in North America. Although the company hasn’t finalized plans for its return to the U.S. market, an announcement could come later this year, Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said Friday. “The U.S. market is very large, and we’re not looking to occupy a premier position,” Marchionne said. “But I think we do have a couple of brands and products that we can sell successfully there.”

Fiat it still quite a powerhouse in South America where they build 800,000 cars per year at a single plant. That keeps them with a 25% market share, so it would be very difficult for them to take cars from that plant and ship them to North America. They just don’t have the capacity.

>When Fiat left the U.S. market 25 years ago, it had developed a reputation for fussy cars that needed frequent repair, a tough sell as companies such as Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM) were establishing reputations for mostly worry-free cars. Fiat was pushed to achieve higher quality standards in Europe, especially after protectionist tariffs on imported cars were dropped and the Japanese could compete evenly there as well. Now, with profits and sales surging in Europe, as well as South America, Marchionne figures Fiat has unfinished business in America.

Most of remember how unreliable those old Fiats were. This is something that was addresses a while ago and reliability shouldn’t be a problem like it was in the past.

[ Fiat to Return to the U.S. ]