Fiat, in its infinite wisdom and foresight, has granted a stay of execution to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the U.S. automaker's compact hatchback/station wagon/old peoples'-mover. The PT Cruiser was previously scheduled to end production this summer.
After a quick rinse in bankruptcy and a takeover by Italy's Fiat (which now owns a 20% stake), Chrysler will continue production of the PT Cruiser, using the model as a stopgap until the Fiat 500 is ready to make its North American debut. Manufactured at Chrysler's Toluca Car Assembly in Toluca, Mexico, the PT Cruiser will be 11 years young when Fiat intends to stop production in December 2010.
Once production of the PT Cruiser ends, the plant will go through a six-month retooling period, during which the plant will be made ready for production the Fiat 500 and the Fiat Panda (which will be rebadged as a Jeep, according to Inside Line).
As it gains access to Fiat's dealerships and Europe and Brazil, Chrysler is apparently anticipating demand for its aging, early-retro-cutesy compact car in those markets. In the U.S., sales dropped about 37% from 2006 to 2008 - and sales are down about 72% through May compared to last year, to just 7488 units.
Source: Inside Line