Forgetting about hybrids for a second, both Ford’s Fiesta and Chevy’s Cruze Eco are rated at 40 MPG highway or better for fuel economy. That left Chrysler as the sole U.S. automaker without a 40 MPG commuter car offering. Sure, the Fiat 500 will probably exceed that when details are announced on November 17, but that’s badged as a Fiat and not sold through each and every Chrysler or Dodge dealership; in other words, it doesn’t really count when you’re placing it up against the Fiesta and the Cruze.
Now comes word, through 4 Wheels News, that Dodge will get a 40 MPG commuter car based on an unnamed Fiat platform. Tooling for the car has already been turned over to Chrysler Group’s engineering department, which likely means that we’ll see the car in showrooms by early 2012. A small, fuel efficient commuter car is seen by Chrysler executives as essential, both to maintain a competitive market position and to achieve CAFE standards of 39 MPG across automobile product lines by 2016.