Today, Fiat bought an unusual ad “wrap” around the front page of USA Today to announce the U.S. debut of its Smart car–sized Fiat 500. But the ad may have the unintended effect of sending chills down the collective American spine.
“Over a half century ago, it inspired an entire nation,” reads the ad’s headline over a black and white pic of the 500’s lookalike 1957 forbear, the Cincquecento, scooting through cramped Italian streets.
A half-century later, Barack Obama is using the 500 as part of an industrial policy not to inspire America — but to transform it into an Italian model of ballooning debt, skyrocketing energy prices, and government dependency.
The 500 is Obamacar.
Determined to force Americans into higher-mileage vehicles, Obama demanded that — in return for a free stake in bankrupt Chrysler — Fiat had to sell a 40-mpg car in the U.S. The diktat was one in a series of Mussolini-like, strongman moves by Obama that included stripping secured bondholders of their rights in favor of his UAW cronies.
The symbolism doesn’t stop there. Obama envies Fiat’s Mother Country. Ranked a lowly 87 on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, Italy’s government takes nearly 50 percent of GDP and staggers under a federal debt measuring 115 percent of GDP. Obama’s ruinous entitlement and spending policies have us on course for the same — which would erode America’s current No. 9 ranking on the Heritage list.
While Fiat has dutifully assumed control of Chrysler as Obama approved the progress of its 500, the cute little car is likely to be a small seller. The 500’s micro-size and high-mpg inspires Europeans navigating Old World streets and $7 a gallon gas. In the United States, where gas is taxed half as much, Chrysler’s Grand Cherokee rules.
The 500 is “a fashion item,” says auto consultant Xavier Mosquet. “It attracts a lot of young, urban professionals.” And it is a niche vehicle that will help Fiat-Chrysler satisfy Il Duche Obama’s 35.5 mpg-by-2015 edict.