Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What could the Fiat/Chrysler deal mean for Ford?

Well, there's no easy answer there, but Chrysler's filing for bankruptcy could have a major impact on suppliers. And IF the Fiat merger works, it could help "save" Chrysler.
But in a very simple way, the Fiat partnership would likely mean that one way or another we'll see the much praised Fiat 500 here in the states. But what will that mean to Ford?
The Ford Ka shares platform with the 500, but from what I've read it's actually better.
Does that mean we'll see the Ka here? Suposedly Americans will be clamoring for smaller cars, something I thought last year's gas prices would confirm. But we're already expecting the superior Fiesta here next year and the fact that the Ka shares a platform and some powerplants with the 500 could be a negative for Ford.

Here me out here for a minute. I know I've written about the Ka in a favorable light in the past and even suggested it would be a good move to bring it stateside. And as I said, while they share common DNA, the Ka does have better reputation for quality and even handling characteristics.
But, Fiat has a low quality record in Europe and it won't be long before the automotive press here points out to buyers the shared DNA. So, even though they're not built in the same plants and Ford's quality rating for the Ka is higher, once 500s start spending more time in the shop than on the road, will buyers assume the Ka will be crap also?
I'm torn here, I like the Ka, but the Fiesta is the one I'd be more likely to buy and does Ford need the Ka here? I'm sure a portion of the buying public will move to smaller more fuel efficient cars, but will there be enough of them to support the Fiesta and the Ka? Probably not. And will the "Fix It Again Tony" revive the "Found On Road Dead" label that Ford has worked so hard to shake?
What do you think?

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