Limited-edition cars herald Fiat's US arrival

Fiat is to sell 500 Prima Edizione Fiat 500 models in the US, the company has announced, ahead of the official launch of the Fiat 500 later this year.

The "First Edition" vehicles will be available only in white, red and grey and will be sold to long-term US Fiat enthusiasts, who will be able to select their model build number for the limited-edition range.

Fiat announced the model at the "Fiat Freakout," a gelato-fuelled annual convention of Fiat lovers organized by Club Fiat-Lancia Unlimited, the main national Fiat enthusiast club.

“The Fiat Cinquecento Prima Edizione was developed especially with the Fiat fans in mind,” said Laura Soave, Head of Fiat North America, who personally presented the opportunity to the Fiat aficionados.

Fiat hopes that the special editions will become collectors' items in the same way the first edition cars such as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Viper are now considered hot property among enthusiasts today.

The reintroduction of the Fiat brand to the US by Chrysler is likely to significantly shake up the small car segment, where Chrysler lags behind fellow Detroit giants Ford and General Motors.

Ahead of the Detroit International Auto Show earlier this year, chose the economical Fiat 500 as one of ten cars that could save the US auto industry, pointing out that Chrysler doesn't have a single model which gets better than 31 mpg.

Earlier this month, Chrysler confirmed that it has started the selection process for US Fiat dealers, saying that it will cover approximately 125 markets in 41 states, all selected by growth potential in the small car segment.

The locations will be officially announced in September, ahead of the introduction of the Fiat 500 in late 2010 and the Fiat 500 Cabrio in 2011.

Canadian showrooms are scheduled to receive the vehicles by February 2011.