Mightier Than the Mini?


Understandably overlooked in the news today was the news (see the NYT and Jalopnik) that ailing Chrysler just sold 35% of itself to Fiat, which hasn't imported cars to America since the '80s. Why should Seattle drivers care? Because Fiat makes super cool subcompacts like the revived 500 (pictured above with its ghostly post-war predecessor to the rear), which rival the Mini and other European brands. The 500 is cheaper, comes with a variety of high-mileage engines (including diesel), and is more awesome than anything Chrysler ever manufactured. If the Obama administration wants to help Chrysler, autoworkers, and budget-conscious motorists during the current recession, it should permit the Fiat 500 and other European small cars to be imported here immediately. (They're perfectly safe and non-polluting; only our federal crash and emissions regulations don't perfectly square with the Europeans'.) Not only would that introduce more economic competition where it's needed in the auto sector, but Seattle buyers wouldn't have to wait so long to get that precious Smart Car or Prius delivered. If you pulled up to the Roosevelt PCC in a Fiat 500, I guarantee you'd have the coolest ride in the parking lot.

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