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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 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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