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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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RE: Fiat EVO
By Brandon Hill on 8/17/2011 10:31:11 AM , Rating: 3
Cheapest new car in the U.S. is the 2012 Nissan Versa. Sedan starts at $10,990. It's ugly as hell, but it gets the job done:

RE: Fiat EVO
By Samus on 8/17/2011 12:17:59 PM , Rating: 2
God the Versa is ugly.

The 500 is overpriced. It's not that its current price is bad but that the 'Pop' model is poorly equiped. Something the story failed to emphasize is that the Mini base model at 20k is better equiped than the Fiat 500 Sport (which is 20k.) Ridiculously, none of these trims are offered with leather as standard (except for the steering wheel...yes, the Pop doesn't even have a leather steering wheel)

I remember specing out a 500 Sport at the car show last February and it was around 23k after taxes and destination. The Mini Cooper I speced was better equipped for 22k.

And when you consider other small fashionable vehicles like the Fiesta, I wonder why they're having trouble selling 500's?

RE: Fiat EVO
By Iaiken on 8/17/2011 2:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
As a Miniac, I had the opportunity to take a 500 Sport out on Mosport raceway when Fiat was trying to drum up some PR and some interest back in June.

The 500 is priced like a Mini and they are trying to sell it like a Mini, but it's not a Mini. The interior finish is not as nice, the ride is mushy, the shifter-gate drives me crazy, the car sways heavily in the turns and you really feel it because of your upright driving position. Above all, it's slower than even a stock justacooper and it bleeds off far more speed in the twistiest sections than the cooper.

The items that stood out most to me vs the cooper were the 500's cheep torsion bar rear suspension (vs the Coopers multi-link MacPherson struts) and the 5-speed transmission (vs the 6-speed getrag in the Cooper). One can only hope that the 500 Abarth fixes at least these two glaring by adding a 6-speed and anything more sophisticated than a torsion bar at the rear wheels. The first I can see, but the second would require taking away space from the rear cabin (already in short supply) in order to make room for a strut/coilover assembly.

RE: Fiat EVO
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the Chrysler philosophy. Except for maybe acceleration what can a 300 do better than a comparatively priced BMW?

RE: Fiat EVO
By Jeffk464 on 8/17/2011 2:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
I worked for Nissan, the Versa has a solid rear suspension which really messes up the ride and handling. But although new the power train seemed like its probably going to be reliable. I guess it works, I would be tempted to buy a nicer used car before I bought a versa.

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