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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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Fiat EVO
By jatkinsaut on 8/17/2011 9:34:14 AM , Rating: 2
I drove a Fiat Punto EVO around Europe a month ago, and it was impressive. I drive an Acura TL over here, and the Fiat is vastly different, but still very good. Diesel is cheaper than gas over there, wonder why it's the reverse here?

RE: Fiat EVO
By Gondor on 8/17/2011 9:45:05 AM , Rating: 2
Diesel is cheaper because it is used by trucks and governments deliberately keep the tariffs on diesel fuel down in order to appease the truckers.

As for the car and comparisons with Ford Focus et al: neither this nor Mini is the best-bang-for-buck kind of vehicle, unlike Focus. It's an attempt at a status symbol (a "fashion statement", if you will), hence to rather absurd price tag for its passenger/luggage capacity, engine power and gear. It's a car directed towards female crowd, just like Mini, VW Beetle, Mazda Miata and the likes of these.

RE: Fiat EVO
By zmatt on 8/17/2011 10:26:28 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what pricing you are looking at but 15k is about at the bottom for a new car that isn't a Daewoo. the 500 is very cheap. You can blame inflation on making 15k cheap though. Most cars run around 30k when you are done optioning them out and paying taxes, and SUVs tend to run more. The Focus which you consider a better deal starts at 18k and the Fiesta which is the 500's competitor starts at 14k only 1 grand less than the 500. So how is it over priced?

I also take issue with the Miata being directed at the female crowd. I autoX on a regular basis and by far the most common car is a Miata. It's a very good car. It's simple to work on, reliable, and on certain tracks such as autoX faster than Z06 corvettes. It's the car for people who want to have their cake and eat it. Likewise the 500 is a very fun drive as well, and even if the interior is cheap (but what isn't at 15k?) it is still very good.

RE: Fiat EVO
By Brandon Hill on 8/17/2011 10:31:11 AM , Rating: 3
Cheapest new car in the U.S. is the 2012 Nissan Versa. Sedan starts at $10,990. It's ugly as hell, but it gets the job done:

RE: Fiat EVO
By Samus on 8/17/2011 12:17:59 PM , Rating: 2
God the Versa is ugly.

The 500 is overpriced. It's not that its current price is bad but that the 'Pop' model is poorly equiped. Something the story failed to emphasize is that the Mini base model at 20k is better equiped than the Fiat 500 Sport (which is 20k.) Ridiculously, none of these trims are offered with leather as standard (except for the steering wheel...yes, the Pop doesn't even have a leather steering wheel)

I remember specing out a 500 Sport at the car show last February and it was around 23k after taxes and destination. The Mini Cooper I speced was better equipped for 22k.

And when you consider other small fashionable vehicles like the Fiesta, I wonder why they're having trouble selling 500's?

RE: Fiat EVO
By Iaiken on 8/17/2011 2:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
As a Miniac, I had the opportunity to take a 500 Sport out on Mosport raceway when Fiat was trying to drum up some PR and some interest back in June.

The 500 is priced like a Mini and they are trying to sell it like a Mini, but it's not a Mini. The interior finish is not as nice, the ride is mushy, the shifter-gate drives me crazy, the car sways heavily in the turns and you really feel it because of your upright driving position. Above all, it's slower than even a stock justacooper and it bleeds off far more speed in the twistiest sections than the cooper.

The items that stood out most to me vs the cooper were the 500's cheep torsion bar rear suspension (vs the Coopers multi-link MacPherson struts) and the 5-speed transmission (vs the 6-speed getrag in the Cooper). One can only hope that the 500 Abarth fixes at least these two glaring by adding a 6-speed and anything more sophisticated than a torsion bar at the rear wheels. The first I can see, but the second would require taking away space from the rear cabin (already in short supply) in order to make room for a strut/coilover assembly.

RE: Fiat EVO
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the Chrysler philosophy. Except for maybe acceleration what can a 300 do better than a comparatively priced BMW?

RE: Fiat EVO
By Jeffk464 on 8/17/2011 2:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
I worked for Nissan, the Versa has a solid rear suspension which really messes up the ride and handling. But although new the power train seemed like its probably going to be reliable. I guess it works, I would be tempted to buy a nicer used car before I bought a versa.

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.

RE: Fiat EVO
By Kiffberet on 8/18/2011 8:03:01 AM , Rating: 2
The Fiat 500 is overpriced.
In the UK the Ford KA, is the equivalent to the 500. They even share the same engine and other parts.

But if the Fiesta, which is the model up from a KA and below a Focus, cost a grand less than the Fiat, that certainly points to overpricing. The Fiesta is one of the best performing, and specced cars in it's group for that price tag, so Fiat need to do something price wise to compete!

RE: Fiat EVO
By Jeffk464 on 8/17/2011 2:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why would any buy the one of these over the new ford fusion, civic, or Hyundai elantra. Their are much nicer cars that get excellent mileage.

RE: Fiat EVO
By zmatt on 8/17/2011 7:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
different market segments. You can't compare apples to bananas.

RE: Fiat EVO
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 11:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
different market segments. You can't compare apples to bananas.
You can most definitely compare the Civic and the Elantra as they're in the same price range and people WILL be crosshopping those cars.

RE: Fiat EVO
By 91TTZ on 8/18/2011 4:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
You can compare them.

They're in the same market segment because the price is the same. Someone with $15k to spend is going to look at the $15k Fiat and the $15k Elantra. They're not going to seriously consider a $30k car just because it has similar exterior dimensions as the Fiat.

Probably Because
By magmaviper on 8/17/2011 9:07:18 AM , Rating: 3
Most American's don't want to drive a vagina on wheels.

RE: Probably Because
By Motoman on 8/17/2011 9:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
Sure they do - look at all the hybrids and EVs.

RE: Probably Because
By MrTeal on 8/17/2011 10:10:16 AM , Rating: 5
I would guess the number of men who love driving a vagina would disagree with you.

RE: Probably Because
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 11:02:58 AM , Rating: 4
What does it say about you that you feel the need to drive around is something that's making a statement about your sexuality? I drive a Fiat 500 and here in the UK no one give a crap. I'd MUCH rather drive around in my 500 than drive around in some big bland eurobox. If you actually sat in one you'd actually probably like it. The gearshift is in the best place you could imagine, the interior is a genuinely nice place to be in, you've got a great view of the road and it's fantastic to drive in the city due to having the wheels more or less on the corners.

Sure if you feel like your car should prove something about the size of your wang then it's not for you.

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.

RE: Probably Because
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 9:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Most American's don't want to drive a vagina on wheels.

Drop the "W" in wheels and the picture changes dramatically.

RE: Probably Because
By Paj on 8/18/2011 7:38:07 AM , Rating: 2
I guess most Europeans dont want to drive a massive throbbing cock around either.

Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By CharonPDX on 8/17/2011 1:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
Why the hell are these microcars so expensive, and have such crappy gas mileage?

A Hyundai Accent gets better mileage, has more space, and costs less. Wasn't the entire point of the Smart in Europe to be a very efficient, very cheap car? What happened in coming to the US? What is up with these microcars being pieces of stylish crap in the US?

RE: Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By wookie1 on 8/17/2011 3:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
My '99 Honda Civic hatchback got about 32 city and 34 hwy MPG, and had plenty of room for groceries.

My '89 Suzuki Swift GTi was similar in size to the Fiat, but was sporty with the 100HP engine, and had plenty of room for groceries. It got about 36 city and 40-42 hwy MPG.

Why such poor mileage for the Fiat?

RE: Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By Iaiken on 8/17/2011 3:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Because testing standards have changed and cars weigh far more than they used to.

Fiat 500 is a small car, but it weighs 2363lbs while the '99 Civic hatches weighed only 2222lbs in spite of being significantly larger.

Seriously, this comes up every time someone brings up mileage and it's the same stupid statement every single time. I also find your numbers extremely suspect as everywhere I can find empirical data from Civic\Swift GTi owners, they all quote MPG figures that are 5-10 mpg lower than what you are stating here.

Why so much bull sh!t from the wookie?

By Philippine Mango on 8/18/2011 8:08:59 AM , Rating: 2
The '96-'00 civic hatchbacks had manual transmissions with taller gear ratios that other comparable civics which is what usually gave them better fuel economy. So when you hear about civic owners touting mpg in the mid 30s to low 40s, usually they're hatchback owners... Otherwise, aside from lots of highway driving or living in rural areas (no traffic), fuel economy in these cars is usually low to mid 30s. The autotragic versions get significantly worse so it just depends on who you ask.

By shiftypy on 8/22/2011 8:34:14 AM , Rating: 2
Thats the problem. You get tiny cars than weigh so much you get no savings at all. Mask it by getting an efficient engine and think nobody will notice? But for weight and smarts that go into it, the cost of the car is big as well.

What if you put this efficient engine in a light body?
I'm thinking Richard Hammonds Opel "Oliver" Kadett which weighs under 1800 pounds. Surely with modern parts and materials you can make it acceptable by todays standards without sacrificing much.
... And then "safety" people emerge and ruin everything

RE: Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 3:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
My '89 Suzuki Swift GTi was similar in size to the Fiat
I remember those. Drove one once, fun car. The Swift is probably 500-600 lbs lighter than the 500 so it's 100hp would be working with far less weight.

RE: Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By Iaiken on 8/17/2011 3:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
The 500 has 110lbs of air bags crammed into it.

RE: Price/efficiency suck on microcars!
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 6:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
The 500 has 110lbs of air bags crammed into it.
You don't really think that is it for safety equipment, do you?

By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 11:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
Can you elaborate?

they don't know how to succeed in america
By Pessimism on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: they don't know how to succeed in america
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 9:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
The interior blows a$$ and all that for the same price as a Focus, Mazda3 and every other car in that price range which are MUCH better cars. Fiat needs to learn how to study their competition. You can't release sh!t when your competition is Shinola.

By MeesterNid on 8/17/2011 9:44:11 AM , Rating: 3
What?! In Europe you just make stuff you want and then if nobody buys it you ask the government of your respective socialist nation to intervene...oh wait, you do that in US too now, nevermind.

By Pessimism on 8/17/2011 10:29:29 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, hence why I said $500 less than any other car on the market.

Interior actually looks worse than a rental PT Cruiser I drove once, which is no small feat of engineering.

By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 10:50:50 AM , Rating: 1
You're an idiot on many levels.

Don't know about everyone else
By spamreader1 on 8/17/2011 9:07:22 AM , Rating: 3
But you can get a Ford Focus for about the same price, with more room, and the same or better economy.

By GulWestfale on 8/17/2011 9:35:02 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed. And the "fiat" is actually manufactured by chrysler in one of their mexican plants, so it should be cheaper, but it isn't. Standard equipment sucks, too; and an optioned-up 500 approaches camry (or v6 mustang) territory. No wonder they don't sell well.

Not Comparable
By Flunk on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Not Comparable
By Brandon Hill on 8/17/2011 9:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
The Fiat 500 has four seats

RE: Not Comparable
By teldar on 8/17/2011 9:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
4 seater. Per the article. Not a2 seater.

Fiat reputation
By AskTheChief on 8/17/2011 10:18:04 AM , Rating: 2
The only thing I remember about Fiat is Fix It Again Tony.

And now they own Chrysler, another company not really known for quality or good gas mileage.

RE: Fiat reputation
By DanNeely on 8/17/2011 10:33:35 AM , Rating: 2
Marchionne fixed fiat's reliability problems when he took over; and is forcefeeding to the Chrysler people to fix their problems as well.

I wonder why
By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 10:48:36 AM , Rating: 2
Smaller than a Chevy Cruze Eco. Gayer looking than even a VW Bug. And lower fuel economy than the Cruze.

RE: I wonder why
By Jeffk464 on 8/17/2011 2:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, although cruze wouldn't be my first choice in fuel efficient cars. There are way better choices on the market then this fiat crap.

Worse car I ever owned was a Fiat
By GatoRat on 8/17/2011 1:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
Granted, it was 35 years ago, but it was a pile of junk. Fiat claims to have improved, but my experience will stick with me.

Moreover, my 99 Honda Civic automatic gets better gas mileage. If I'm going to drive a death mobile, it better damn well get over 35 mpg city, 45 mpg highway with an automatic.

By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 11:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
Fiat claims to have improved,

Don't forget the simple laws of physics. When you're at the bottom there's no place to go but up.

Fiat 500
By L1011 on 8/17/2011 9:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the 500 being fugly is a big reason why, too. I saw one last week that was beige in color. Seriously, BEIGE. (Fiat calls is "Mocha Latte" whereas I simply call it "BLAH!".

I agree with a previous poster, the Ford Fiesta is running circles around the 500. I'm usually the biggest American car hater, but I was very impressed with the Fiesta when I had one for a rental. I'm considering buying one as a commuter car.

Dear Fiat,
By wallijonn on 8/17/2011 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
Had you made this car look like a 1964 Corvette they'd now be selling. If it gets great highway mileage then it should be aerodynamically sleek. Your car is not.It is not selling because it is ugly, plain and simple. At best it may appeal to the VW crowd. Exactly which age demographics does it appeal to? Certainly not the under 21 crowd, which typically will buy anything, like the Scion.

Only the Mini
By btc909 on 8/17/2011 2:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhh did you miss the Smart car? This isn't all about competing with the Mini. As long as you don't get squashed between two vehicles your vehicle will probably do alright in a crash. Problem is your body will act like a ping pong ball inside strapped in by the seatbelt & also your vehicle could bounce over into another lane of traffic & get hit again. Same as with the Smart I didn't see any amazing MPG numbers here either. Why would I buy this when I can buy a larger vehicle that will do better in a crash & get better MPG? Oh I know to make it easier to park in a mid sized to major sized city.

Disappointed Brandon
By Keeir on 8/17/2011 2:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
I am a little disappointed Brandon.

In July 2011, Fiat apparently move ~3,000 500. Thats a year rate of ~36,000. Which is not really bad, or that far off a 40,000 a year target.

In addition, people need to realize the shear scope of the US automobile market. Each year ~12-13 million automobiles are sold. In boom years, this number has reached more than 15 million, and in worst years still around 10 million.

For a individual car family success could be measured on this scale

0-10,000 specality/failure
10,000-30,000 niche
30,000-60,000 bit player
60,000-120,000 moderate success
120,000-240,000 very successful
240,000 + best seller

In July 2011, 6 cars and 2 trucks were selling at a rate approx equal to 240,000 a year.

All 6 cars were "D" market or very large "C" market cars.
Even if the 500 was very succesful for the "B" market, it would be a bit player in the US market. The entire Mini brand is a bit player. Only 1 hybrid has consistantly sold at a level to be above a bit player in the market. Most hybrids struggle to be more than niche.

Fiat said they essentially hoped to sell around 15% of the number of Camry, Cruze, Altima, Sonata, Malibu, Fusion, etc.

this is progress???
By DockScience on 8/17/2011 4:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
Our Hyundai Sonata is twice the size, cost less, and gets better gas mileage than this Italian go-cart.

And a 10 year warranty.

By Phoenix7 on 8/19/2011 12:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
Someone should make a fuel efficient compact car that doesn't look so ugly. The Prius is no exception

Just like the not so Smart car...
By Beenthere on 8/17/11, Rating: -1
RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By DanNeely on 8/17/2011 10:31:36 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think so. Fiat's CEO has been predicting another major round of auto maker consolidation is coming with the smallest survivors the size of current day GM/Toyota. Pre-Chrysler Fiat was only about one third or forth that size. He bought it because he thinks his company needs the larger scale to stay alive. If anything he's probably going to be in the market for another smaller car company in a few years.

Oh and the primary direction of technology transfer is the other direction. Fiat's largely fixed the reliability problems that blighted the make for years and which largely still blight Chrysler. Fiat also has all the large car tech they need for their existing markets; Chrysler doesn't have any of the small car tech they need for the expensive gas US market. Their forthcoming small/medium cars are going to be based on fiat designs; either simple re-badges or with cosmetic changes to look better to us customers but still with the same Fiat platform underneath.

By superstition on 8/17/2011 11:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
This article misses some important things:

1. The car wants premium fuel, negating its already unimpressive fuel economy.

2. Most Americans want the automatic, which gets pretty poor mileage for its premium fuel, light vehicle weight, compact size, and tiny engine. Quoting only the mileage for the manual is...

3. A car like this could get great mileage, with a small diesel engine.


The interior for most of these is black, which isn't so attractive in hot areas. A light-colored interior is available in the premium model, but only light accents are available in the lower trims.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By 306maxi on 8/17/2011 10:52:49 AM , Rating: 2
You really have no idea. The 500 does VERY well in crash tests and the US version is even better. I own one and you can just feel how stiff and strong the body is compared to cars which are only 5-10 years old.

That said I'm in the UK, I'm not sure the 500 was ever going to do well in the US to be honest.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
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.

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.

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
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.

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
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.

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?

By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:46:25 AM , Rating: 2

Yeah I feel really safe.... And that's just a crossover built on a car platform.

By Beenthere on 8/17/2011 12:32:06 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, if you're a CRASH DUMMY you'll do just fine but as a human your body will be destroyed - as the Audi film footage shows. An over strong chassis imparts all the impact force to the occupants. Properly designed vehicles absorb the energy instead of transferring it to the occupants.

I figure people dumb enough to buy these death traps deserve exactly what they get when hit by a 5,000 SUV in the U.S. The Fiat 500 and not so Smart car are a slow process to cleanse the gene pool but it is effective.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/17/2011 1:06:29 PM , Rating: 1
yeah... My father and his coworker had one in Texas as a rental. He pulled the trunk open, loaded his groceries, tried to close it only to realize it was still locked.

The panel was so flexible he was able to open it. He then unlocked it, closed it, and tried it again. Same thing.

There's no way in h#ll I'll drive one of those things. I don't want to die.

Aren't the stateside versions made in Mexico? That could explain the lack of quality. I've seen them at the dealer lots and I can't say I'm impressed.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By spread on 8/17/2011 4:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
The Impreza and the Evo have aluminum trunks and hoods (that can be dented by a punch) but they still do amazing in crash tests.

The hood and the trunk add little to the car structurally and you can make them out of light materials. You would know this if you had any clue about cars instead of jumping to conclusions.

But hey, you like your heavy steel right? It's safer isn't it? Look at this crash test video of a 1959 Belair (a tank) versus a lighter modern day 2009 Malibu made of thin steel.

Learn before you judge.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:56:08 PM , Rating: 3
You can't make them out of lighter materials because things like hail or opening and closing warpage will damage them.

Your video only shows you don't know that lighter is worse if you compare the same modern engineering designs, that it proves nothing at all relative to your claim.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 11:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
You can't make them out of lighter materials because things like hail or opening and closing warpage will damage them.

They can and they do. I've seen the entire "top side" (hood, roof, trunk, tops of fenders) destroyed on a Nissan after a hail storm.

By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 1:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
I 'meant' you can't make them (much) lighter without causing problems. Tinfoil is good for baking or keeping the aliens' radio signal out of my head, not a vehicle that humans ride in.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/17/2011 6:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
Look at this crash test video of a 1959 Belair (a tank) versus a lighter modern day 2009 Malibu made of thin steel.
Thank God they don't make them like they used to. That said, that sure was a pretty car. :)

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/17/2011 8:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Very much so. Do people realize how many injuries occurred from non-collapseable steering columns? Lap-only seat belts? Those cars have no crumple zones. You hit a brick wall and the car instantly stops, while the passengers are still doing 55-60 mph.

Yes old cars crush news cars, but they crushed their passengers as well.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Calin on 8/18/2011 3:07:23 AM , Rating: 2
Recent cars (the one built this millenium, and some just a bit before it) have perfected the concept of "unbendable passenger compartments". The idea is, even on relatively small crashes the car can be a total loss if the passengers are totally safe.I've seen a video with a Smart hitting a concrete barrier at 70 km/h I think (some 45 mpg), and have the passenger compartment almost unbent (the front of the car was completely leveled though).
Seeing the passenger compartment deform that way on the Bel Air was scary as hell, the way the engine compartment stopped mostly intact but the passenger compartment bent and got compressed over the engine.
It's good they don't make them like they used to do

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/18/2011 7:36:51 AM , Rating: 2
Yes but if a larger vehicle hits one, you're getting scraped out of it.

By Brandon Hill on 8/18/2011 8:33:30 AM , Rating: 2
What's your solution? Everybody buy big cars?

You buy a pistol, so I need to buy a shotgun? :)

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 12:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but if a larger vehicle hits one, you're getting scraped out of it.
I don't know, that 59 Bel Air looked pretty large to me. :)

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/19/2011 9:39:00 AM , Rating: 2
Umm, yeah your way out of left field on this buddy.

The trunk being so flimsy that you can open it while it's locked with little effort speaks to its build quality. Not to mention its small size, makes me uncomfortable taking one out on the highway with big trucks, and I've seen what happens to a smart car.

While the hood and trunk may add litle to the structures stiffness, they are used as part of the crumple zones. I dont know of a modern car that you cannot dent if you punch it. Hell, I can push down hard with my hand and dent a hood. So what. No car I've owned or rented have I been able to pull the trunk open whiles its locked, and that includes my WRX. Evo's and Imprezzas are a lot bigger than a 500 not to mention safer.

Maybe you should read the posts I replied to and try to take things in context.

Understand what you read before you blow it out of proportion

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Manch on 8/19/2011 10:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
US version is made in Mexico

European version made in Poland

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By RussianSensation on 8/17/2011 3:07:36 PM , Rating: 1
Disappointing sales for the Fiat 500? Oh really? There can't possibly be any explanation besides a poor dealer network:

1. 68% of Americans are either Obese or Overweight:

So right there and then, you just lost 70% of the car buying market. I mean it's pretty hard to try to sell customers a car where they won't even fit into the driver's seat.

2. Then you have a lot of tall individuals and people who play sports with large physique - the likes of 6'4-5+ footers that are completely not interested in this vehicle.

3. Then you have to deal with the anaemic 101 HP engine (that still can't achieve a fuel economy of 40mpg on the highway!!!), being forced to put the pedal to the floor every time you are accelerating on the on-ramp to 60mph. 0-60 time of 10.8 seconds is sleep inducing, and that's for the Sport model which costs $19,000:

4. So what you have left in US is 16-18 year old girls who want their daddy to get them a Fiat 500, 19-25 year old girls who have enough $ after paying off their student debt and aren't interested in the larger Bettle / a sportier Mini or an SUV for "safety", and "Other", such as males who can't tell the difference in driving between a Fiat 500 and a Mini or their own masculinity.

If you ask me, that's a pretty small market in this economy!

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By MrTeal on 8/17/2011 3:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
1. 68% of Americans are either Obese or Overweight: So right there and then, you just lost 70% of the car buying market. I mean it's pretty hard to try to sell customers a car where they won't even fit into the driver's seat.

Oh come off it. Someone who's 5'10" and 175lbs is overweight according to BMI, they would have no issues fitting into a car like this. Even at 210lbs someone wouldn't have much issue with a small car. Those chicks in the linked picture might have trouble wedging themselves in, but they're probably tipping the scales way into the morbidly obese range.

There's a lot of other reasons to not pay $20000 for a well optioned version of this car, but saying that 70% of people won't be able to fit into it is retarded.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/17/2011 5:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
You are right only if you equate "fitting" to getting as many sardines into a can as possible.

Let me ask this: Do you buy the smallest home your body can physically cram into because you "fit" in it, when smallest would use less energy to heat and cool and cost less? Do you eat the smallest amount of food that will keep you alive? Do you buy the smallest clothing to save on material?

It's idiotic to buy the smallest car you can fit in to save gas. If money is that tight buy a used car and draw interest on the savings, and plan your life better so you aren't needing to drive so many miles.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By MrTeal on 8/17/2011 6:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, no.

I never claimed that anyone should buy the smallest car they can fit into. I wouldn't buy this car because it's a coupe and way too small for my needs, as I'd imagine it is for many people. That has nothing to do with my comment.

The only thing I said is that the statement by the person who I replying to was ridiculous. Most people, even if overweight by the BMI will fit in the driver's seat. That doesn't mean there's enough rear seating space or cargo space, but that has nothing to do with 70% of people not fitting into the driver's seat.

Reading comprehension: It's a wonderful tool.

By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 2:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
My point still stands. Merely "fitting" in the drivers seat does not equate to a car being an acceptable size. People are not products stuffed into boxes, they move around and have things with them, need some breathing room, some personal space instead of rubbing up against the person sitting next to them, etc.

Further, a smaller seat can't support the extra weight over the life of the vehicle, the suspension may start to sag, the vehicle handling can even be effected if the weight imbalance is enough. What dimensions the seat has is the least of the issues as overweight people have to make do with average sized seats "most" of the time they sit down.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By FITCamaro on 8/17/2011 11:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
Someone who is 6'1" and 230 pounds of solid muscle is obese according to BMI. It's a worthless scale.

And half of people I see driving "Smart" cars are (actually) obese. I guess they need the extra money for more food. But it makes me laugh.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/18/2011 12:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Only an extremist who make such a statement, it probably works well on like 70-80% of the population.

Expecting perfection from an estimation is ridiculous.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By mindless1 on 8/19/2011 2:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
Let's make a distinction between obese and obscenely obese, nevermind the useless BMI scale which considers anyone who is physically fit (ample food and exercise to support good muscle mass) and not an ectomorph to be overweight.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By YashBudini on 8/19/2011 5:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's the general population of overweight people that lends itself to BMI's accuracy. Sure boxers and weightlifters are a total fail on the subject, but then what percentage of any country's citizens are overweight and all muscle?

Your distinction should be noted, but that's just one more issue in BMIs vast generalization.

Percentage of body fat is still a good indicator, but not so easy to measure accurately.

By mindless1 on 8/24/2011 1:01:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'll counter that you cannot be healthy according to BMI unless you are an ectomorph.

Only a very sedentary person, or one with a disease or an eating disorder resulting in inadequate nutrients absorbed or utilized for whatever the reason (which is bad for health) will not have enough muscle mass to put them over the suggested BMI range... it's not just boxers (who on the contrary try to stay within the next lower weight class by losing weight) or weightlifter (who try to increase their carb intake to provide mass muscle fuel).

Generalizing, the BMI scale was made by lab rats who can't understand physical activity and its role on body weight.

I agree that % body fat is a (better) good indicator. While it isn't as easy to measure accurately, ultimate accuracy is not needed, that or even a basic visual assessment of someone's body is better than BMI.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By imaheadcase on 8/17/2011 3:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
People don't buy small cars for highway use, most people buy small cars because they don't have far to go or live in town.

I know parents got a Prius simply for the good gas millage and because they drove a LOT but not far.

RE: Just like the not so Smart car...
By Spuke on 8/18/2011 12:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
People don't buy small cars for highway use, most people buy small cars because they don't have far to go or live in town.
They don't? I see small cars on the freeways daily including Smart cars.

By inperfectdarkness on 8/17/2011 10:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
not like a smart car. more like a mini or a new beetle.

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