FIAT 500


Fiat CEO Luca De Meo introduced the new 500 at an elaborate press conference this morning, promising that this is the model that will really change the way Fiat go about building and selling cars. After a fleeting glimpse of the 500 at the culmination of the previous night's extravaganza watched by 100,000 people on a man made structure floating on the River Po, this morning would see the tiny new car introduced to the world's media before 180 cars were to made immediately available for test drives. A late night and an early start was the order of the day but the spectacular festivities had left everyone eager to see and try out the much hyped new model.

Luca De Meo hosted the ambitious press conference and he was eager to explain the rational behind the new 500, and to tie its arrival in to being just as significant and earth changing as was the case with its legendary predecessor fifty years ago to the day. Midway through the lively conference five of the new Fiat 500 models drove down the sloping stage, headlights blazing, and fanned out in front of the international guests.

The venue for the press conference was an arena next to the landmark football stadium and the rising rows of seats faced a sloping stage with a backdrop of huge TV screens. De Meo kicked off by enthusing about the previous evening's celebrations saying he "had felt like a child last night", emotions also expressive of the new 500. "The 500 managed to meet the needs of society fifty years ago and fifty years later the 500 meets all the needs and requirements of our society," he said as he emphasised the new approach and thinking this model signifies. "With the Grande Punto and the Bravo we got closer to the people," he added before emphasising that the 500 completed the circle; saying that "it is a total turnaround in our approach to the people."

Acknowledging that Fiat has to produce truly special cars De Meo said: "what makes a brand is the desire [of customers] to be part of the history of the brand, with the 500 we have started this. He firmly believes that people have really taken the new car to heart: "they think of it as a person, identifying traits of its personality." Elaborating further, he suggested that it has "smiley eyes" and that it "looks at the world in a genuine way, like a baby does."

"The 500 and Fiat do not believe it is impossible to change the world," continued De Meo who speaks with an impressive fluency and without resorting to written notes. The changes at Fiat are coming together with the collaboration of dealers, suppliers and customers, he said.

FIAT 500

Midway through the lively conference this morning five of the new Fiat 500 models drove down the sloping stage and fanned out.


Fiat CEO Luca De Meo introduced the new 500 at an elaborate press conference this morning, promising that this is the model that will really change the way Fiat go about building and selling cars.

De Meo reckons that the 500 gives Fiat the ideal opportunity to put the spotlight on the Turinese brand across the world, that it is a spark for the whole brand and a stimulus to progress, including responsibility to the environment and innovation - theories that will be put into practice as Fiat applies its market leading technology in areas including small efficient diesels, natural gas and alternative fuels, to the 500 making and in the process making it both a showcase and a vehicle with social responsibility. "We want it to become and absolute benchmark in low environmental impact," he added. The 500 will meet the tough new Euro 5 regulations almost two years before they become law.

As well as being accessible and with aesthetics that can allow it to survive fashion changes for decades, De Meo stated that it will get a maximum Euro Ncap star rating: "the first time a 3.5 metre long car will get 5 stars." He emphasised its safety credentials which include seven airbags and ESP.

There will be 500,000 possible variants, 3 engines, 4 trim levels, 15 interior trims, 9 wheel options, 19 decals and 12 body colours. To emphasise the individuality which can be achieved by the 500, De Meo emphasised the optional colours of even the ignition key case. Other technology to assist the user is the second generation Blue&Me infotelematic package. "The 500 has exceeded all the competitors in integrating mobile phone technology, commented De Meo while contributions from the 4 million people who visited the official Fiat 500 website have helped shape the 500 into a car of the "people".

Italian pricing is set to start at 9,500 euros and run up to 14,500 euros, although De Meo stated that in some markets where it will have different, lower specifications it could start at 9,500 euros. 25,000 orders have reportedly been taken so far with the emphasis of these being on high end cars, "I'm sure demand will be greater than we can produce," said De Meo. A powerful range-topping Abarth version will be launched at the Tokyo Motor Show later this year, while no decision on selling (or building) the car in South America has been taken yet.

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An extravagant event took place in Turin last night as the city's car-crazy citizens turned out en masse to celebrate the arrival of the Fiat 500 in a stylish blaze of fireworks and entertainment

2007 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed