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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: Probably Because
By Reclaimer77 on 8/17/2011 11:39:56 AM , Rating: 2
Near where I live there are Chrysler and Ford dealerships across the street from each other. Ford got the "SMART" cars last year, so now the Chrysler dealership houses a Fiat showroom/dealership which stocks 500's exclusively.

Now I don't know if this says something about my "wang", but I find the Fiat 500 utterly uninspiring, which is typical for a European econobox. I'm not going to say "ugly", but it's certainly far from being engaging and inviting. I don't want a car that's styling goal was to be as "cute" as possible. And I keep seeing that word, cute, being used to describe this vehicle all across the web.

Plus a car purchase is kind of a big deal. I'm not going to say you should fear the unknown, but most American's obviously don't know much about Fiat. You buy a Honda or Ford etc etc, you pretty much know what you are getting into. Fiat has little brand recognition here. And the last time Fiat made a push into American markets in the 1980's they were practically driven out due to terrible quality and reliability issues. Remember FIAT = Fix It Again Tony?

Subcompacts have an uphill battle here already. Mini Cooper's seem to have done well for themselves in the U.S. I would rather get one of those over a Fiat 500 if I had to make the choice.

RE: Probably Because
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 11:51:34 AM , Rating: 2
I understand where you're coming from. In terms of reliability the 500 is VERY good. The engines have been in production for 15+ years and have no real issues and the 500 has a good reputation over here. Of course that's not for Americans to know, I mean how would you.

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