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Fiat 500c and 500
Fiat blames nascent dealer network on poor sales

Fiat was supposed to make a triumphant return to the U.S. market with its diminutive and distinctively styled 500. However, things haven't exactly panned out exactly the way that Fiat planned according to The Detroit News.

The 500 is a subcompact that is being pitted directly against the Mini Cooper (an upcoming Arbath model will target the Mini Cooper S). On a lesser degree, the 500 also competed with the Smart fortwo and the upcoming Scion iQ.

However, sales of the tiny four-seater are nowhere close to reaching the lofty goals set by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Fiat expected to sell 50,000 500s during 2011 in North America. Through the first seven months of 2011, Fiat sold fewer than 12,000.

For comparison, BMW AG's Mini brand had total sales of 34,527 through July. The two-door Cooper/Cooper S coupe and convertible models alone accounted for over 20,000 of those sales.

Laura Soave, head of Fiat North America says that establishing a dealer network in the U.S. has taken longer than expected which has contributed to the poor sales. "We have coverage now, so now is the time for us to turn this up," Soave added.

Two basic models of the vehicles are currently available to U.S. customers: the 500 (coupe) and the 500c (convertible). The cheapest model available is the 500 Pop which has a base MSRP of $15,550 (the cheapest Mini Cooper will set you back $19,400). The Fiat 500 also has good fuel economy for a subcompact with EPA ratings of 30mpg in the city and 38mpg on the highway with a 5-speed manual. 

Shares of Fiat SpA dropped over 4 percent on the news of poor 500 sales.



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Just like the not so Smart car...
By Beenthere on 8/17/2011 10:02:56 AM , Rating: -1
All of three people in the U.S. rave about buying dangerous toy transportation models like the not so Smart car and Fiat 500. When it comes time to sign on the dotted line, the reality is these cars are impractical and unsafe for U.S. roads and few people actually want them other than for flower pots.

The only reason Fiat bought Chrysler was to get a dealer network to try to sell Fiats. In five years after Fiat has gutted Chrysler and stolen their technology, Fiat will sell Chrysler and go back to Urrup and keep selling crapmobiles.




RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By DanNeely on 8/17/2011 10:31:36 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think so. Fiat's CEO has been predicting another major round of auto maker consolidation is coming with the smallest survivors the size of current day GM/Toyota. Pre-Chrysler Fiat was only about one third or forth that size. He bought it because he thinks his company needs the larger scale to stay alive. If anything he's probably going to be in the market for another smaller car company in a few years.

Oh and the primary direction of technology transfer is the other direction. Fiat's largely fixed the reliability problems that blighted the make for years and which largely still blight Chrysler. Fiat also has all the large car tech they need for their existing markets; Chrysler doesn't have any of the small car tech they need for the expensive gas US market. Their forthcoming small/medium cars are going to be based on fiat designs; either simple re-badges or with cosmetic changes to look better to us customers but still with the same Fiat platform underneath.


By superstition on 8/17/2011 11:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
This article misses some important things:

1. The car wants premium fuel, negating its already unimpressive fuel economy.

2. Most Americans want the automatic, which gets pretty poor mileage for its premium fuel, light vehicle weight, compact size, and tiny engine. Quoting only the mileage for the manual is...

3. A car like this could get great mileage, with a small diesel engine.

Also:

The interior for most of these is black, which isn't so attractive in hot areas. A light-colored interior is available in the premium model, but only light accents are available in the lower trims.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 10:52:49 AM , Rating: 2
You really have no idea. The 500 does VERY well in crash tests and the US version is even better. I own one and you can just feel how stiff and strong the body is compared to cars which are only 5-10 years old.

That said I'm in the UK, I'm not sure the 500 was ever going to do well in the US to be honest.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 11:49:07 AM , Rating: 2
Oh I agree it's not going to come off well against a tank, but driven in the city in its natural environment any impacts should be low speed and it'll be fine. I wouldn't buy it as a car to do huge distances in across country, but no small car is going to do well against an F150 anyway.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By tastyratz on 8/17/2011 12:20:40 PM , Rating: 1
The "natural environment" of America would be f150's and suv's.
Are people cutting back? yes... but they still drive their big vehicles so it deserves consideration (I really wish crash tests included impacts with specific vehicle classes and weights/ratings/etc). I see less on the road, but not few.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Jeffk464 on 8/17/2011 2:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
People are trying to get out of their large gas guzzling vehicles, where have you been?


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By tastyratz on 8/17/2011 2:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
Here, seeing that *many* people are, and the amount of cars vs trucks on the road has certainly changed... but there are still a TON of trucks and suv's on the road. I am not saying that people aren't looking at smaller more fuel efficient alternatives... but in the end I still see plenty of big vehicles every day here.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Solandri on 8/17/2011 9:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Despite what all the coverage of pro-environmental coverage in the media would have you believe, Americans most definitely are not trying to get out of their gas guzzling vehicles. About half the passenger vehicles (non-commercial vehicles) sold in the U.S. are trucks and SUVs. The long-term trend is actually towards more trucks and fewer cars, not the other way around. There was a small dip in truck sales around 2008-2010 coinciding with the high gas prices, but that was just a fluke in the long-term trend. The 2010 truck sale ratio is up from 2009.

http://wardsauto.com/keydata/historical/UsaSa01sum...

Year - trucks as % of all vehicle sales
2010 - 52.13%
2009 - 49.05%
2008 - 49.83%
2007 - 54.06%
2006 - 54.47%
2005 - 56.09%
2004 - 56.74%
2003 - 55.47%
2002 - 53.08%
2001 - 52.20%
2000 - 50.72%
1999 - 50.40%
1998 - 49.37%
1997 - 46.98%
1996 - 45.14%
1995 - 42.97%
1994 - 41.66%
1993 - 40.01%
1992 - 37.39%
1991 - 34.78%
1981 - 21.24%
1971 - 16.99%
1961 - 13.64%
1951 - 17.71%
1941 - 19.34%
1931 - 14.70%


By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 11:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'd love to see a similar graph of % of US citizens that rent storage units in the last 30 years.

George Carlin's routine on people's "stuff" was way ahead of its time.

Most don't realize - purges are freaking awesome.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Calin on 8/18/2011 2:52:34 AM , Rating: 2
That probably doesn't take into account that some of the "trucks" are small SUVs, which are just large, tall cars.
Even so, there seem to be a constant growth in average weight of the vehicles on road.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 11:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
Nice work! Interesting data, I also thought the percentage of trucks vs cars was in the cars favor but the data definitely says otherwise.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Calin on 8/18/2011 2:49:12 AM , Rating: 2
A large vehicle you own is cheaper than a small vehicle with much better fuel economy, which you don't own.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 3:43:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
People are trying to get out of their large gas guzzling vehicles, where have you been?
Ford and Chevy trucks still top sales in the US. There hasn't been much change in the top 3 (F-series, Silverado, Camry). Most of the shuffling has been below that. Like I've said before, large SUV's never sold all that well. The Yukon hit #20 like once or twice. The old Explorer was a huge seller but that dropped off when Ford got complacent and didn't update it. The new Escape has taken that spot. The shake up is really Hyundai with the new Sonata and Elantra and Honda dropping off the sales charts like a rock (more than likely due to supply issues). The types of cars really hasn't changed much. Which makes are selling is.


By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
You've been reading too much propaganda and listening to those who want change rather than those who are not speaking because they don't want change.

Look around including vehicle sales data, people are NOT trying to get out of their average sized vehicles and into something tiny.

Where have you been? Certainly not on the roads of America. The average car sold IS smaller than it was 20 years ago, but not by much, it's more a function of engineering, taller/shorter trunk, and smaller engine compartment.


By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:49:45 PM , Rating: 3
No it won't be fine, it will be totaled by the insurance company far more often and we do not need to pit it against an F150, how about the average american vehicles made in the last 15 years?


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Dr of crap on 8/17/2011 12:19:17 PM , Rating: 1
I just love it when the comments are made about how the small cars can't compete against the big SUV and trucks IF they get into a crash with them.

I'd guess you don't drive a motocyle, because
"what would happen in crash with a big truck?"

enuf said!


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Schrag4 on 8/17/2011 12:44:54 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I'd guess you don't drive a motocyle, because
"what would happen in crash with a big truck?"


Doctors refer to motorcycles as "donorcycles." It doesn't matter what you run into when you ultimately stop your momentum with your neck and head.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Dr of crap on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 8/17/2011 4:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
I agree for the most part, except don't underestimate these people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=573gh5qgH5A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCHJP5Vt05c


By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
Bike riders see driving in a totally different light. It doesn't matter who's at fault you're the one who becomes mush.

Everyone should have to take a motorcycles safety course, it teaches a great deal about driving in general that is overlooked in most other training. Example: Always having a "way out" of situations. Cars drivers rarely consider such tactics.


By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
You are exactly right. I don't trust other people enough to ever think about riding a motorcycle. I've seen enough bodies in the road as a result of people killing motorcycle riders because they weren't paying attention. Sometimes its the riders fault. But there's plenty of cases where its not.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By idiot77 on 8/17/2011 7:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
Only reason any car does poorly against an F-150 is due to bumper height against all other things.

It's stupid that they don't make trucks conform to standards just to keep sales higher with "better" looking vehicles.


By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you've been but trucks have been forced to lower their point of impact. The Dodge Durango was one of the first to do so back in 2004. Most modern trucks have crushable bars mounted lower in the bumper that absorb an impact to better protect people driving smaller cars. But there's only so much you can do. And if people raise up the vehicle more with larger wheels and tires, then the point is moot.


By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:36:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How do you think it does in crashes against an F150 though?


If we continue that train of thought then should we all be driving tractor trailers? This argument almost lends itself to traveling by train.

quote:
That's the problem with crash tests.

Were things better before crash tests? A simple yes or no will suffice.

Clue - vehicles that are "too small" may stand out by actually having higher insurance and mortality rates. Which is rather ironic if your nuts enough to buy a Fiat 500 for economy.

Worth noting - A vehicle can become so light that breakaway light poles don't breakaway. Really, does anyone think such light poles snap when hit by motorcycles?


By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:46:25 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pVF1Wr7GLQ

Yeah I feel really safe.... And that's just a crossover built on a car platform.


By Beenthere on 8/17/2011 12:32:06 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, if you're a CRASH DUMMY you'll do just fine but as a human your body will be destroyed - as the Audi film footage shows. An over strong chassis imparts all the impact force to the occupants. Properly designed vehicles absorb the energy instead of transferring it to the occupants.

I figure people dumb enough to buy these death traps deserve exactly what they get when hit by a 5,000 SUV in the U.S. The Fiat 500 and not so Smart car are a slow process to cleanse the gene pool but it is effective.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/17/2011 1:06:29 PM , Rating: 1
yeah... My father and his coworker had one in Texas as a rental. He pulled the trunk open, loaded his groceries, tried to close it only to realize it was still locked.

The panel was so flexible he was able to open it. He then unlocked it, closed it, and tried it again. Same thing.

There's no way in h#ll I'll drive one of those things. I don't want to die.

Aren't the stateside versions made in Mexico? That could explain the lack of quality. I've seen them at the dealer lots and I can't say I'm impressed.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By spread on 8/17/2011 4:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
The Impreza and the Evo have aluminum trunks and hoods (that can be dented by a punch) but they still do amazing in crash tests.

The hood and the trunk add little to the car structurally and you can make them out of light materials. You would know this if you had any clue about cars instead of jumping to conclusions.

But hey, you like your heavy steel right? It's safer isn't it? Look at this crash test video of a 1959 Belair (a tank) versus a lighter modern day 2009 Malibu made of thin steel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g

Learn before you judge.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:56:08 PM , Rating: 3
You can't make them out of lighter materials because things like hail or opening and closing warpage will damage them.

Your video only shows you don't know that lighter is worse if you compare the same modern engineering designs, that it proves nothing at all relative to your claim.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 11:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can't make them out of lighter materials because things like hail or opening and closing warpage will damage them.

They can and they do. I've seen the entire "top side" (hood, roof, trunk, tops of fenders) destroyed on a Nissan after a hail storm.

http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source...


By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 1:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
I 'meant' you can't make them (much) lighter without causing problems. Tinfoil is good for baking or keeping the aliens' radio signal out of my head, not a vehicle that humans ride in.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 6:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Look at this crash test video of a 1959 Belair (a tank) versus a lighter modern day 2009 Malibu made of thin steel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g
Thank God they don't make them like they used to. That said, that sure was a pretty car. :)


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Very much so. Do people realize how many injuries occurred from non-collapseable steering columns? Lap-only seat belts? Those cars have no crumple zones. You hit a brick wall and the car instantly stops, while the passengers are still doing 55-60 mph.

Yes old cars crush news cars, but they crushed their passengers as well.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Calin on 8/18/2011 3:07:23 AM , Rating: 2
Recent cars (the one built this millenium, and some just a bit before it) have perfected the concept of "unbendable passenger compartments". The idea is, even on relatively small crashes the car can be a total loss if the passengers are totally safe.I've seen a video with a Smart hitting a concrete barrier at 70 km/h I think (some 45 mpg), and have the passenger compartment almost unbent (the front of the car was completely leveled though).
Seeing the passenger compartment deform that way on the Bel Air was scary as hell, the way the engine compartment stopped mostly intact but the passenger compartment bent and got compressed over the engine.
It's good they don't make them like they used to do


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/18/2011 7:36:51 AM , Rating: 2
Yes but if a larger vehicle hits one, you're getting scraped out of it.


By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/18/2011 8:33:30 AM , Rating: 2
What's your solution? Everybody buy big cars?

You buy a pistol, so I need to buy a shotgun? :)


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 12:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yes but if a larger vehicle hits one, you're getting scraped out of it.
I don't know, that 59 Bel Air looked pretty large to me. :)


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/19/2011 9:39:00 AM , Rating: 2
Umm, yeah your way out of left field on this buddy.

The trunk being so flimsy that you can open it while it's locked with little effort speaks to its build quality. Not to mention its small size, makes me uncomfortable taking one out on the highway with big trucks, and I've seen what happens to a smart car.

While the hood and trunk may add litle to the structures stiffness, they are used as part of the crumple zones. I dont know of a modern car that you cannot dent if you punch it. Hell, I can push down hard with my hand and dent a hood. So what. No car I've owned or rented have I been able to pull the trunk open whiles its locked, and that includes my WRX. Evo's and Imprezzas are a lot bigger than a 500 not to mention safer.

Maybe you should read the posts I replied to and try to take things in context.

Understand what you read before you blow it out of proportion


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/19/2011 10:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
US version is made in Mexico

European version made in Poland


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By RussianSensation on 8/17/2011 3:07:36 PM , Rating: 1
Disappointing sales for the Fiat 500? Oh really? There can't possibly be any explanation besides a poor dealer network:

1. 68% of Americans are either Obese or Overweight: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/108770/20110204/u-...

So right there and then, you just lost 70% of the car buying market. I mean it's pretty hard to try to sell customers a car where they won't even fit into the driver's seat.

2. Then you have a lot of tall individuals and people who play sports with large physique - the likes of 6'4-5+ footers that are completely not interested in this vehicle.

3. Then you have to deal with the anaemic 101 HP engine (that still can't achieve a fuel economy of 40mpg on the highway!!!), being forced to put the pedal to the floor every time you are accelerating on the on-ramp to 60mph. 0-60 time of 10.8 seconds is sleep inducing, and that's for the Sport model which costs $19,000:

http://www.insideline.com/fiat/500/2012/2012-fiat-...

4. So what you have left in US is 16-18 year old girls who want their daddy to get them a Fiat 500, 19-25 year old girls who have enough $ after paying off their student debt and aren't interested in the larger Bettle / a sportier Mini or an SUV for "safety", and "Other", such as males who can't tell the difference in driving between a Fiat 500 and a Mini or their own masculinity.

If you ask me, that's a pretty small market in this economy!


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By MrTeal on 8/17/2011 3:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1. 68% of Americans are either Obese or Overweight: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/108770/20110204/u-... So right there and then, you just lost 70% of the car buying market. I mean it's pretty hard to try to sell customers a car where they won't even fit into the driver's seat.


Oh come off it. Someone who's 5'10" and 175lbs is overweight according to BMI, they would have no issues fitting into a car like this. Even at 210lbs someone wouldn't have much issue with a small car. Those chicks in the linked picture might have trouble wedging themselves in, but they're probably tipping the scales way into the morbidly obese range.

There's a lot of other reasons to not pay $20000 for a well optioned version of this car, but saying that 70% of people won't be able to fit into it is retarded.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
You are right only if you equate "fitting" to getting as many sardines into a can as possible.

Let me ask this: Do you buy the smallest home your body can physically cram into because you "fit" in it, when smallest would use less energy to heat and cool and cost less? Do you eat the smallest amount of food that will keep you alive? Do you buy the smallest clothing to save on material?

It's idiotic to buy the smallest car you can fit in to save gas. If money is that tight buy a used car and draw interest on the savings, and plan your life better so you aren't needing to drive so many miles.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By MrTeal on 8/17/2011 6:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, no.

I never claimed that anyone should buy the smallest car they can fit into. I wouldn't buy this car because it's a coupe and way too small for my needs, as I'd imagine it is for many people. That has nothing to do with my comment.

The only thing I said is that the statement by the person who I replying to was ridiculous. Most people, even if overweight by the BMI will fit in the driver's seat. That doesn't mean there's enough rear seating space or cargo space, but that has nothing to do with 70% of people not fitting into the driver's seat.

Reading comprehension: It's a wonderful tool.


By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 2:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
My point still stands. Merely "fitting" in the drivers seat does not equate to a car being an acceptable size. People are not products stuffed into boxes, they move around and have things with them, need some breathing room, some personal space instead of rubbing up against the person sitting next to them, etc.

Further, a smaller seat can't support the extra weight over the life of the vehicle, the suspension may start to sag, the vehicle handling can even be effected if the weight imbalance is enough. What dimensions the seat has is the least of the issues as overweight people have to make do with average sized seats "most" of the time they sit down.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
Someone who is 6'1" and 230 pounds of solid muscle is obese according to BMI. It's a worthless scale.

And half of people I see driving "Smart" cars are (actually) obese. I guess they need the extra money for more food. But it makes me laugh.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/18/2011 12:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Only an extremist who make such a statement, it probably works well on like 70-80% of the population.

Expecting perfection from an estimation is ridiculous.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 2:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
Let's make a distinction between obese and obscenely obese, nevermind the useless BMI scale which considers anyone who is physically fit (ample food and exercise to support good muscle mass) and not an ectomorph to be overweight.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/19/2011 5:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's the general population of overweight people that lends itself to BMI's accuracy. Sure boxers and weightlifters are a total fail on the subject, but then what percentage of any country's citizens are overweight and all muscle?

Your distinction should be noted, but that's just one more issue in BMIs vast generalization.

Percentage of body fat is still a good indicator, but not so easy to measure accurately.


By mindless1 on 8/24/2011 1:01:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'll counter that you cannot be healthy according to BMI unless you are an ectomorph.

Only a very sedentary person, or one with a disease or an eating disorder resulting in inadequate nutrients absorbed or utilized for whatever the reason (which is bad for health) will not have enough muscle mass to put them over the suggested BMI range... it's not just boxers (who on the contrary try to stay within the next lower weight class by losing weight) or weightlifter (who try to increase their carb intake to provide mass muscle fuel).

Generalizing, the BMI scale was made by lab rats who can't understand physical activity and its role on body weight.

I agree that % body fat is a (better) good indicator. While it isn't as easy to measure accurately, ultimate accuracy is not needed, that or even a basic visual assessment of someone's body is better than BMI.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By imaheadcase on 8/17/2011 3:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
People don't buy small cars for highway use, most people buy small cars because they don't have far to go or live in town.

I know parents got a Prius simply for the good gas millage and because they drove a LOT but not far.


RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 12:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
People don't buy small cars for highway use, most people buy small cars because they don't have far to go or live in town.
They don't? I see small cars on the freeways daily including Smart cars.


By inperfectdarkness on 8/17/2011 10:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
not like a smart car. more like a mini or a new beetle.


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