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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: 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.


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