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The launch of the 2012 Fiat 500 may present some problems for parent company Chrysler, as only 20 percent of Fiat franchises will be ready to go in time for the vehicle's launch in late February.

In addition, the initial batch of cars will only have manual transmissions, even though Fiat expects most 500s to be ordered with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Those cars won't arrive until March or April. Chrysler launched their first Fiat dealership this month in Los Angeles.

More: Fiat 500 Launch Looking Rocky As Lacks Of Dealers, Manual Transmissions Cause Problems on AutoGuide.com
 

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I never believed the end of year

People don't do a lot of car shopping n the dead of winter. I have gotten some of my best deals in the past in deserted winter showrooms. So I am thoroughly unsurprised at the foot dragging to get into springtime.

Automatic transmission is something I would not pay 10 cents for personally. There is no evidence in the article (just a blurb really) offered as to why this is a real and not imagined problem for "Chrysler." The supply will be limited at first, with most of the first models going to young urbanites, who can chew gum and shift at the same time.
 

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The fact that there is no dealer listing on fiatusa I find very troubling, and not a good sign of things to come.

I agree with Andy on mannies; if Americans are too lazy to get a manual in such a small car where it would actually be useful, there's no hope for us.
 

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While I agree manual transmissions belong in small cars, what about grandma who just needs a nice little car to go grocery shopping in, or the college girl who thinks the 500 is cute? Not everyone wants a stick, or can even drive one. Remember that manufacturers have to sell to EVERYONE. The Aveo, Mini Cooper, and VW Beetle are all available with an auto trans.
 

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While I agree with you from a business perspective, I do have a problem with no one these days even learning how to drive a stick.

And honestly, the reasons for not getting a manny are being lazy and not being able to text while driving, two qualities I don't find that attractive in Americans these days.
 

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Right on. As I had said before, if they were serious they would have engineered a CVT transmission. I found out recently that they only sell the manual in Europe. This six-speed thing is a complicated, probably heavy contraption that they rigged up for the North American market.

Reminds of the reverse situation in American cars. You could special-order a manual transmission for some of these that were clearly designed for an automatic. The clutch was cable-actuated, and the "emergency brake" was a pedal high under the dashboard!
 

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It is odd that we have two separate threads with the same title and topic. Strange also that I am unable to just leave it alone.

dprb: Bravo? Ok, but Fiat does sell cars with automatics: mostly in larger Lancias in Italy.

AA: "if they were serious"? I think that they are serious, and have studied the market carefully. Marketing leads the engineering in almost all cases. But I think that the CVT may indeed be a lighter, less complicated mechanism.

Fiat wants to sell cars in NA. Americans want cars with automatic transmissions. Solving this equation should be simple. Hint: remember that we all want Fiat to succeed, and be here for the long haul.

Whether it is a CVT or a conventional automatic is not something I would have much opinion on. Ford recently went from a CVT to a conventional auto box in the Freestyle/ Tarus X, saying that, for them, it was just as reliable and simpler to build regular automatics. We just test drove a Mercedes B200 (not available in the US) and it had a CVT. Seemed to be just fine and I don't think that a manual would have improved the driving experience.

As to laziness or other motivations for having an automatic, I think that you will find that Germans buy automatics in about half their cars, and they certainly drive more aggressively and faster than north americans do generally (IMHO). Corvettes come with auto boxes. When was the last time you saw a manual trans. in a BMW? Even in an M3?
Finally the DSG auto in the VW GTI shifts faster than any manual- perhaps manually stirring the gears is the manly, but slow way to go?

However, my 500 will be have a manual transmission. My wife drives and prefers a manual and my son is learning to drive on a manual transmission as well.
 

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We just test drove a Mercedes B200 (not available in the US) and it had a CVT. Seemed to be just fine and I don't think that a manual would have improved the driving experience.
That is your opinion. I drove an A class through England/Scotland/Wales in June, and kept thinking how much more fun things would have been with a manny, even if it would have been on the wrong side.

I've seen tons of BMWs with mannies; in fact, the US M5 was delayed because BMWCCA owners demanded one. I'm not sure what your point was on that (look at all of the E class taxis with mannies in Germany, for example). Yes slushboxes are available on most cars these days, and most are a hair quicker than a manny. That doesn't detract from the higher intrinsic fun factor in owning a manual, imho.

As I said, it does add up, money-wise, to offer an automatic. I'm just glad to see that Fiat will be offering owners a choice. I rowed the gears at the manual-equipped 500 at the Philly car show, by the way, and the clutch is very light. It should be easy to learn on, but I'm hoping that it's tightened up a bit on the Abarth, whenever that makes it here.
 

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I can control my car's speed and (importantly) the engine's speed more accurately with a manual, that is why I prefer to drive one.

Where I disagree with some previous comments, it does not necessarily contribute to Fiat's success in N. America, that they can make short term gains by giving people something they think they want. We already require the biggest engine made for this car to satisfy the driving "preference" of the American public. With a heavy big transmission in a car not originally designed for it, people may still be able to gripe about lack of power.

It's not just Fiat with the problem. Every Mazda you see in this country is overpowered. A little tiny compact with a 2.3 liter engine is ludicrous. That is the deal Mazda has made to be saleable here. It's part of the SUV - "hey, it's my fuel to waste" - attitude that helps cause the problem.
 

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Of transmissions

Not to get preachy, but here is why the CVT is superior:

The trade-off of an automatic is that it (normally) uses a fluid coupling in the transfer of power from the engine to the driven wheels. This causes a loss of efficiency, which is the reason that they almost always get lower mileage than a manual transmission.

The manual transmission has the advantage that the driver controls the clutch, which is basically two spinning plates that lock together. This creates a mechanical connection from the engine all the way through to the wheels. It also allows for engine braking, because when the driver lets up the accelerator, the wheels start driving the engine, slowing down the vehicle, without grinding down any brake pad material (energy wasted in the form of heat dissipation).

The CVT came along and created an automatic that works without any fluid coupling. I will spare you the details of that, you can look up how it works if you want to.

Yeah, if you have 50-60 thousand to spend, Mercedes will make you an automatic transmission that is hard to beat. (But there are driving conditions where long term you can beat it, again I will spare you the boring details.)
 

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Andy,

I'm with you on all your points about heavy cars and engine size. And your example of the biggest engine in the NA version of the 500 is a good one. I mentioned in another post that I really liked the 1.2 that I drove. Years ago I had a Rabbit GTI with the 1.5 l engine. Now I can't buy a golf with anything except a diesel or a 2.5 l engine.

Tommy: yes, my comments about the B200 with the CVT are my opinion; that's what a forum is for. I wasn't making a 'point', but it appears that you understood it anyway. I said that many, not all, performance cars are purchased with automatic transmissions, and you agreed. You like manual transmissions, I like manual transmissions. You want an Abarth, and I wish I could get a 1.2 l engine. We all find our fun in different ways.

I was simply offering my opinion in this conversation, and adding some examples to support my opinion. AndyAndrews did the same thing in his post about CVT transmissions.

As I am trying to point out now, it's a discussion, not an argument. And the point of this thread was the Autoguide article that was comparing the availability of 500 with automatics with the expected demand for automatics.
 

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I understand - sorry if my response seemed a bit aggressive.

From what I've read of possible Alfas possibly coming here (and the new Chryslers as well), it seems that some cars that are small enough to warrant an option will be coming with an auto only (either normal slushbox, cvt, or dsg variant). I guess it's only a matter of time til mannies are a thing of the past.
 
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