Chrysler's international sales in both the minivan and pickup categories are strong, but the company lacks strong small vehicle sales outside of the U.S. In Canada, Chrysler may be fairing well in the light truck market, but is virtually non-existent in both the B-segment and the C-segment of passenger cars. With limited international success in the small car market, Chrysler struggles to gain a strong foothold. B-segment and C-segment vehicles accounted for more than half of all vehicles sold in Canada last year and Chrysler accounted for only a small fraction of the segments.

This is where Fiat, a company that has formed its foundation on the basis of small cars, comes in. With strong-selling vehicles in both segments mentioned above, Fiat could be exactly what Chrysler needs to gain market share in Canada. As Reid Bigland, Chrysler Canada Inc. president and chief executive officer, recently told Ward's Auto, "Chrysler Group LLC's alliance with Italy-based Fiat Auto SpA likely spells payoff for the Pentastar company's Canadian-market sales."

Bigland told Ward's Auto that crowds gathered around the Fiat products last month at the Toronto Auto Show. The Fiat 500 and its performance oriented Abarth model were big hits. As Bigland said of Chrysler partnering with Fiat, "(it) fits like a glove."

The Fiat 500 is expected to go on sale in Canada by the end of next year. Canadian Chrysler dealers will receive special allotments of 500s based upon their status as "top performers" and each dealership's willingness to modify their stores to showcase the Fiat brand. Additional, undisclosed Fiat models are expected to appear in Canada after the 500's introduction.

[Source: Ward's Auto]