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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 FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:44:24 AM , Rating: 0
It might do well in crash tests against similarly sized cars. How do you think it does in crashes against an F150 though?

That's the problem with crash tests. They don't test it against larger vehicles. 5 stars just means it did well against stationary objects and similarly sized vehicles.


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?


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