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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 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.

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
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.

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