SAN DIEGO – Product planners who passed on an Abarth-version Fiat 500 for North America felt the sting of criticism, Ward’s learns. “When I took on this job, Abarth was not in the plan,” Fiat North America chief Laura Soave says of the Italian band known for high performance and its scorpion logo. “We took it to the product committee and they (said), ‘I don’t know. Maybe the market’s not ready. Do we need another car like this?’ Then we started collecting the data.” The reaction was ...

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