Fiat to return to US market

American automaker Chrysler plans to sell 50,000 Fiat 500 minicars in the United States in 2011, a source told AFP on Monday, as the Italian brand returns to the US market.

Fiat, Italy's biggest car maker which controls 20 percent of Chrysler, aims at unveiling the minicar at the Los Angeles auto show in November, the source said.

In a meeting with 400 of its car dealers on Monday, Chrysler said it wants to open Fiat dealerships in 165 locations across the United States with the biggest small-car markets.

"Our dealers will be able to interact with a group of individuals that are not part of their current customer base. These are individuals interested in Italian automotive design coupled with fuel efficient technology," said Laura Soave, Head of Fiat Brand North America.

"The new Fiat retail network will begin selling the US version of the Fiat 500 late this year, and the Fiat 500 Cabrio model in 2011," the statement said.

The Fiat 500 will be built in Toluca, Mexico, while its engine will be manufactured in the United States, Chrylser said.

The North American version of the Fiat 500 will be equipped with Fiat's 1.4-liter and an in-line four-cylinder engine.

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