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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 Iaiken on 8/17/2011 10:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
Ignore Gondor, he hates all things european, or things that have style, or are fun.

The autocross events up in Toronto are dominated by two cars, Mini Cooper S, Mazda MX-5. Sometimes you see the odd BMW 1-series or S2000 with a skilled driver manage to place.

I've been running an 06' Cooper JCW for 5 years and I can safely say that it's more fun for the dollar than any other sub-$50,000 car I have driven. Beyond that, you're getting into Elise, Cayman, Corvette, TTS, M3 territory.

Though I still try to occasionally talk my wife into letting me have an Ariel Atom as my next garage queen.

RE: Fiat EVO
By Gondor on 8/17/2011 11:01:55 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, I do ?

I pointed out that it is possible to get more car for your money by opting for just about any other small alternative, including other FIAT models of roughly this size. 500 is not meant to be an economy car, FIAT has other models in their lineup to fill this market segment.

A quick comparison of prices:
FIAT Punto Evo 1200 ccm (3 door) = under 9000 Euros
FIAT Panda (same engine) = under 7000 Euros (!)

There's just no way to get FIAT 500 (which is smaller than either of these two) any cheaper. The baseline 1200 ccm engine model costs ~10000 Euros. It's a retro revival of the model 500 from 1950s and onwards and it is priced accordingly, just like Mini (nw take on Morris Mini) and Beetle (remake of VW "Bug"). This is all there is to it.

RE: Fiat EVO
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 11:22:59 AM , Rating: 2
Some people don't get this.

Personally for me the 500 was overpriced. When we bought ours it was £10,720 including leather and a few other options, but we got ours through the scrappage scheme and we got 2k off for scrapping a non-running car. Thing is there are tonnes of people here who will pay full price for it over here.

In the US I think they should have gone in with some more conventional models first though.......

RE: Fiat EVO
By zmatt on 8/17/2011 7:21:00 PM , Rating: 2
The Cooper is actually $5k more than the 500. And btw the Cooper is actually the "hot" mini everywhere else in the world. Most people get what's called a mini one, which would be a better match for the base the 500. The 500 Abarth is supposed to cost similar to the Cooper S when we get it, but in US spec it will be as powerful as the Abarth essesse in europe. As for why they chose the 500 first, probably for image. They needed a good looking car that would get people's attention. the Punto and the Panda are pretty bland cars that probably wouldn't sell well in America. The only way you can push something like a mini or a 500 here is by making it stylish and fun. The American concept of a family car is something along the lines of a Camry not a Golf. Because of that a small and practical Panda would fail horribly here.

Also, I rode in a cooper today and while it handled well and went ok, it noticeably lost power with the AC on and the interior was very cheap. In my personal experience the 500 is just as good and is a good competitor. I think the biggest hurdle isn't the 500 itself, but the slow dealer growth and almost no national marketing. I have yet to see a Fiat commercial.

RE: Fiat EVO
By siuol11 on 8/22/2011 2:14:48 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, I think the Punto is a MUCH better looking car.

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