Lancias, Fiats and Chryslers at Detroit motor show 2010

Published: 12 January 2010

Strange goings-on in the newly assembled Fiat-Chrysler axis at Detroit. The Cobo Hall has been rearranged this year to reflect the change in ownership, and so we enjoyed the juxtaposition of a Ferrari 599XX alongside a Dodge Viper.

Slightly less easy on the eye was the abomination that was the Chrysler Chrysler. Or at least, nobody was quite sure what it was called, but it was a Lancia Delta with a Chrysler grille stuck on the front and some new hubcaps. As an example of how Chrysler and Fiat can help each other, it was rather feeble, most onlookers agreed.

Fiat sported a brace of Fiat 500 BEVs, converted to run on electricity. By 2014, Chrysler will have gone from none to three superminis, all enabled by Fiat’s strength in small cars – and at least one of them will be 500-based.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual at Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. That means more special editions than you can shake a stick at, from Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Mountain Edition to Islander Edition, via a minutely price realigned 300C to a bright yellow Detonator version of the Dodge Nitro. Not that appropriate really, when you remember the failed bomb attempt in Detroit on Christmas Day.`

If we’re sounding a bit negative about Chrysler’s first show on home turf since the bankruptcy, then that’s because we are. Compared with GM, it had a much quieter show and less vision for where it could go. We just hope they can turn it around quickly enough to start bringing the punters back in.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was spied hovering around the show in his trademark slacker’s jumper. And if anyone can turn around a basket case, then he can. He has previous with Fiat and we’re still impressed by what he achieved in Turin. Fingers crossed he can do the same under his ambitious 2014 turnaround plan.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet

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