By on May 21, 2014

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An event held at Washington D.C’s Brookings Institute saw FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and former National Economic Council head Larry Summers discuss the auto bailout on its five-year anniversary. As always, Marchionne had some colorful commentary, with a one interesting nugget about Fiat.

According to Christina Rogers of the Wall Street Journal, Marchionne claimed that the Fiat 500 was only imported to the United States due to the government’s hand, with Marchionne stating

“It was a condition assigned to the [bailout] deal”

This has previously never been stated in any bailout related discussion – only the Dodge Dart and its 40 mpg capability has been highlighted as a specific requirement of the bailout, in terms of product.

If this is indeed correct, it would add some context to Fiat’s confusing position in the marketplace. For Fiat to thrive in America, it would make sense to add more product that is better aligned to American tastes. All we’ve gotten are the 500 and 500L, which are both unsuited to the vast majority of American tastes and driving conditions.

So far, Fiat’s American arrival has been an expensive endeavor that has not exactly fared well. The costs of homologating the cars, building the 500 in a new factory in the NAFTA zone, establishing a dealer network and marketing the car is certain to be a $1-billion dollar expenditure. Perhaps this is just a bit of bluster by Sergio to obfuscate the fact that Fiat isn’t burning up the sales charts in America. I am sure that Fiat dealers would like a more lucid answer.

 

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136 Comments on “QOTD: Marchionne Says Government Made Him Sell Fiat 500...”


  • avatar

    I find it very hard to believe the bailout would have included such micromanaging of product. Much easier to believe that Marchionne would have made such a claim.

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      Hard to believe? The government is doing micromanagement all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The government also forced GM to kill Pontiac and Hummer as a condition of the deal

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        If I read between the lines correctly, GM was required to shed brands, and the details were negotiated among the big stakeholders.

        That’s not quite the same as “the government said so”, though it’s a lot easier to say it that way in public.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Even if true, Hummer was a dead end brand and Pontiac was a zombie brand.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually no. The government agreed to provide DIP financing for the C11 IF GM has a common sense plan for the future. GM made the decision to keep Buick over Pontiac, Saturn has NEVER made any money, and Hummer wasn’t aligned with fuel economy standards and was subject to fuel price volatility more than any other brand. DIP lenders ALWAYS impose stipulations.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Reading car czar Stephen Rattner’s book on the auto bailout shocked me at the level of micromanagement. (And as a result, made me VERY skeptical of this current administration.) The Feds forced out Rick Wagoner at GM. Like dwford mentioned, they dictated the assassination of nameplates, financing specifics, and future product offerings. Textbook fascism…er, micromanagement.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The government behaved like a private equity firm, which produced a better result. That isn’t surprising, given Rattner’s background in private equity.

        Handing over a wad of cash to Rick Wagoner would have been foolhardy; lighting the money on fire would have been more productive. Wagoner contributed to the destruction of GM and he had to go. It would have been nothing less than gross negligence to leave him in place.

        • 0 avatar
          EquipmentJunkie

          You are exactly right. The Feds should have made a few calls to Wall Street (just like they did to get Rattner) and insisted that a couple of firms make it happen. Instead, the Feds acted like a PE firm and we assumed the risk and got the bill.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “The Feds should have made a few calls to Wall Street (just like they did to get Rattner) and insisted that a couple of firms make it happen.”

            Er, that’s exactly what happened. That’s how FIAT ended up running Chrysler. There wasn’t anyone to take GM.

            There was no private sector capital as of 2009. The government was the investor of last resort, and it was a cheaper alternative to allowing them to fail.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            PCH, I had a few bucks in 2009. At least 5 of them, if I remember correctly. Hence, there were private sector capital in 2009. Every penny of capital the government obtains, it takes from someone else. It’s not like the taxfeeders suddenly turned productive, after all.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Try not to be too hard on Wagoner. He was a white guy who could play basketball! He could jump!

          Besides, he was Chairman of the Board the same way other chairmen in the board rooms of industry were: his constituency was the other directors who got their heat from the stockholders. That’s why there were repeated calls to separate the chairman and CEO positions at GM.

          The CEO should actually know how to run the company, but boards like to reward the chairman with additional titles, especially good schmoozers like Wagoner. The result at GM was a guy in charge who didn’t know how to run the company.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          The government should have stayed out of it except to let watch for lessons to be learned in order to fix the present bankruptcy system.

          Every time you hear all the experts crying about what would have happened if they had left it to the regular processes just think about a bunch of medieval doctors talking about how much worse it would have been if we they hadn’t bled the patient. Same logic, same results, same excuses. No one knows what would have happened because the government stepped in and named the winners and losers.

          The infection has now spread even father into the community. The only question is whether in another three decades we will now have three cries for help or four from too big to fail auto makers.

          • 0 avatar
            CapVandal

            The process was exactly like normal bankruptcy, with a few differences.

            GM actually DID go through bankruptcy.

            The owners/shareholders were wiped out. (always happens)

            Top management (Wagner) fired.

            The company is restructured.

            The company was recapitalized.

            Difference:

            The bankruptcy happened at the trough of a near depression, and GM is the US flagship company in a significant industry (automobiles). If it had happened during a typical period of economic activity, normal bankruptcy would have been an acceptable option.

            The Treasury provided interim financing (roughly equivalent to DIP financing) in order to keep GM operating without interruption. Treasury financing also kept other stakeholders in operation — suppliers, dealers, &c.

            Unions pension funds vs bondholders? That is a difference. In my mind, a distinction without a difference. These are retirees, for god sakes, not part of the 1%.

            The time to experiment in order to discuss “lessons learned” is not during the middle of a financial crisis.

            The major mistake was not renaming the company. 90% of Americans (although no one on TTAC) think GM did not go through bankruptcy and was simply bailed out.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Not even close. Let’s have a murder trial. You are the accused. You do to mind if we just skip all the normal process and go to a normal looking result, right?

            Once again, if the conservatives skipped to a different end, the Dems would still be screaming.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The federal government did GM and the rest of us a favor by forcing the resignation of Rick Wagoner and the phase-out of Pontiac and Saturn.

        Pontiac and Saturn had been dead-brands-walking for years, no matter what the fanboys at gminsidenews.com want us all to believe.

        GM should have never started Saturn in the first place. It diverted crucial investment from Chevrolet, and apparently only made money for one year of its existence.

        Pontiac? The “glory days” lasted roughly from 1959 through 1971. After that, it was basically caught between Chevrolet and Oldsmobile.

        Ford and Toyota had been proving for years that it was possible to sell high-priced vehicles under the badge and through the dealership body of a “mass market” brand. GM needed to beef up Chevrolet (and Cadillac), not waste money propping up a stable of brands that had lost their meaning by the early 1980s.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        Or… Exactly what any investment firm would have done in their place. I wonder what you would have said had bane capital made the same decisions? Who am I kidding. Pontiac would be alive and thriving after being sliced off the GM carcass and sold to china. But atleast Obama wasn’t involved!

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Fascism is not the same as applying contractual obligations to a financial reorganization but coming from TTAC it doesn’t surprise me. The argument was the government used business analysts to choosethe best approach to keep the automakers workable. They put requirements in in order to keep their investment safe and frankly that sounds like business sense. If you disagree over politics fine, but in practical terms that is par.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          But what is not par is the intervention into the process in the first place. I can only imagine your screams had GWB stepped in using the same process but picking different winners.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Really? Apparently you never read what I write on the idea of ‘winners and losers’ and how I am not beholden to capitalism. I’ve never been one to decry the government’s choice to intervene or not or award contracts on the ideological level. I may disagree with their choices of WHO and WHY they get them but it is well within the scope of the government to pick ‘winners and losers’ which is a very modern right-wing meme.

            As far as Bush is concerned, he did just that plenty of times. His refusal to enforce environmental laws allowed companies to pollute freely and in essence set the terms as much more lenient for their activities. I’m not a particularly big Bush hater, I disliked his anti-competitive stance on issues and his complete disregard for the environment but that is largely what the modern Republican party has done. Him using his executive powers are fine, I don’t like his choices but he was largely within his rights to do so. It just means I have to win to stop his actions, that’s how a Democracy works (in theory).

            Frankly the decision of the government is a bit more complicated because they essentially became majority owner or atleast in the majority with the UAW/CAW pension funds so in their agreement to purchase GM & Chrysler they were allowed to make executive changes to how the company was run. In fact it was a standard business agreement carried out numerous times before. The government has bought out companies in the past and has also put direct business regulations on individuals.

            You’re really upset because it disagrees with your political ideology and came here trying to claim an upset in the status quo when if it you looked at your history it is in fact standard procedure in these situations, they are rare, but they do occur.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Xer,
            You would be one of very few statists and/or redistributionists not calling for impeachment had the bond holders gotten a big cut at the expense of retirees.

            I find the attempt to equate the outright taking of property with the failure to enforce oppressive environmental regulations simply outrageous. It’s such a stretch, do you guys who pull that sort of demagoguery really believe it yourselves?

            As for it having been done before, what kind of justification is that? None in my book.

            It is against my ideology, and the less rare it becomes then, logically, the more frustrated I would become. Wouldn’t that be expected? Besides that, what makes you think I am, “really upset?” Or, are you just trying to belittle my point by making out that I am emotional or something?

            Lastly, picking winners and losers is no new meme. You are just hearing it more because more republicans now have a libertarian bent and because the current administration has taken that process too far and is killing the needed recovery with it. Less people are are working on adding value and more on influence peddling and that won’t trend the other way until government gets less intrusive.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            First, stop using propaganda terms. The idea of a statist is a false dichotomy with an anarchist, since you aren’t there is no argument, we’re effectively in the same form of government ideology just differ on what that government should do. Redistributionist sounds like somebody who works in logistics, it doesn’t have a meaning and frankly it assumes again in a false dichotomy that you are against any form of sharing which is patently false, you accept government benefit, you have surely benefited from forced redistribution but just publicly disavow this form you dislike.

            In the case of GM there was no ‘taking of property’ the companies went to the government seeking protection. The government offered it on strict terms. In essence GM and Chrysler like all large multi-nationals are no longer ‘owned’ but are held in stock which means that they have debts that are outstanding and those creditors were paid off at a discounted rate to purchase those loans. It wasn’t any more a form of theft than if I were to buy a loan at discount to collect on it at a later date.

            You again refute the argument based on ideology but not on a factual stance. It doesn’t make it criminal, just means you dislike it. Stop being a whiny brat in that respect, I pick and choose my battles and disagree based on facts if I can help it but don’t cry about how you dislike it and try to equate it with criminal activity.

            Nobody particularly cares if you’re emotional, least of all me. I pointed out that as a conservative in this post-modern era you’re trying to equate your ideological position with one of the constitution and law in general. Instead of acknowledging it is merely your perception and desire. One means that the system is committing a crime the other is the system is working but you’re losing democratically.

            Your final paragraph is at best a joke, the ‘winners and losers’ meme is hilarious because fundamentally that is the point of capitalism, to make winners and losers. The fact that you’re afraid the government is doing it instead of the large private powers that be is a telling sign of who you align with. Not that the government with the reasonable regulations put in place and the government contracts are actually making winners and losers, the biggest players in the auto scene are under no threat from any national government.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            It’s not propaganda, you are a Statist. My not being an Anarchist doesn’t mean we are the same and I reject that whole argument and your attempt to limit the terms of the debate to terms defined by “liberal” professors of which you are one. We don’t just differ on what the government should do, we differ on what it should be allowed to do.

            I choose redistributionist because it conveys the meaning I intend without it having been redefined in some way by you guys to mean “blah, blah, blah, and good”. All terms for free market, private property loving people similarly having been predefined by you guys as, “blah, blah, bla, and racist/evil/hateful.

            I also reject the argument that anyone having accepted a government benefit is being hypocritical to speak against any benefits the same as I reject that those having served their sentences for burglary would be wrong to support laws against same. It’s an infantile bit of demagoguery you should never fall prey to being an educated man. I insist you realize this and take it back if you wish to retain any respect on these forums. People who follow the law and play by the rules should rightly opine on what those rules should be. Period.

            The GM case. The law was not followed in the case of GM. The process was altered and those who think that had the process written into the laws been followed they would have been better off have a reasonable right to both sue and complain. This is supposed to be a nation of laws. This is not supposed to be a place where people’s property is taken without due process. Trying to use wiggly babble doesn’t change the truth. Trying to make an analogy to buying debts doesn’t even make sense.

            Ideology: I don’t understand your thing with ideology. Do you maintain you don’t have one? You seem to want to say that you stick to the numbers and thus your equations are correct as if your choice of when to multiply and divide as well as to do so accurately are unquestionable while mine, correct or not, are invalid nonetheless because I am infected with ideology. What’s really scary is that you do this in the same post as trying to make me into a hypocrite for arguing against government benefits that I surely have taken. You have it backwards. Only the mentally are without ideology, and most of them have one as well. You have one. It drives you. Get over it.

            You accused me of being emotional and now deny you care. Why did you bring it up then?

            My desire here, which is for me to describe rather than you, thank you, is for the readers to understand the truth, that the law was not followed. I both desire that it is followed and that it is changed in ways that I would prefer. So what?

            Your final paragraph, far from being a joke, is a nightmare. The idea that you are teaching young adults when you are either clueless or simply desire to obfuscate for partisan purposes. We don’t want private powers or government powers deciding winners. That is not the point of free markets. The point is having markets, rather than oligarchs, choose winners and losers because the more that is so, the better off is everyone in society. The less that is so, you get decay and stagnation and lawlessness. Perhaps you have tenure so don’t care what happens, but you might look into what happens when your school disappears because there really are no guarantees when you are dependent on government. Ask a veteran.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Wagoner still has defenders?

        If he were Japanese he’d have to commit Seppuku but he isn’t supposed to get fired (with a golden parachute no doubt)?

        Look, if I came into a failed business and put my money into bailing the thing out, you’re damn right I’m going to micromanage it. The current management was proven to be wildly incompetent.

        That sucks, I guess, but don’t ask the government for money to save your company if you don’t want the government to have a say in saving it. Just seems like basic common sense.

    • 0 avatar
      HWO91

      I don’t find it so hard to believe that the government said SOMETHING regarding expansion of the product into new markets or something. Like “Fiat must enter the North American market by 20XX”. But the choice of the 500 was probably an internal decision that went something like:
      –”F*** guys, what do we have that we can market to Americans?”
      –”Well, the 500 is the NEWEST car we have.”
      –”Will Americans actually BUY that?”
      –”Who cares, Daimler imports the Smart there.”

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A nugget about a piece.

  • avatar
    readallover

    All the manufacturers said at the time that the government wanted them to make higher mileage vehicle, thus the tough CAFE standards. They did not give specific models they had to build.
    And, anyways Sergio, bring in the Strada!!!

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    He is bringing the Fiat 500 to America, in order to be able to sell the HellCat, as shown in the next TTAC entry.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’ve long suspected that Marchionne’s original plan circa 2008-early 2009 was to turn FIAT into a mainstream US brand, but that the subsequent tumble of the European auto industry caused him to change strategies, relying instead on the Chrysler Group brands to prop up the company. Turning FIAT’s US business into a MINI-style niche was probably not the original plan.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    82% (of Americans were) residing in cities and suburbs as of 2011. So could anyone explain to me how an urban runabout and its slightly larger sibling are “unsuited to the vast majority” of the American market?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      For the discerning urban(e) man about town, nothing less than a Town Car will do.

      Seriously though, of the 82% in city/suburbs, 75% want something larger with more power and carrying capacity. 68% of those want AWD. 88% prefer something non-Italian for daily transport.

      • 0 avatar

        Or, to paraphrase The Wire “man look quiet and correct in anything bigger than a C-Segment car”

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t help thinking that if the Fiat were more fun to drive, and — being so small — if it got better gas mileage, it would sell better. I rented one for a month (slushbox), got about 32-33 on the interstate, and I did not find it the least bit fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          I had one as a rental as well and I really liked it. It’s not the greatest highway car but on back roads and in the city squirting through traffic it’s awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            That’s a problem with city cars. Most urban areas are criss-crossed with freeways, and most cross city travel involves going up a ramp to an elevated freeway and traveling at 65 MPH. The 500 really needs to rev up to get up the ramp, and hold its own with trucks and traffic even within city limits.

            Most European cities don’t have intra-city freeways and expressways, so the 500 doesn’t have the capability for an American city car. Then there’s the package shelf masquerading as a back seat – in an American city, you’ll likely have more than one passenger.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            If you need more power, the 500 turbo and Abarth beckon. The 500 has a little 1.4L Italian motor – rev the nuts off the thing and it moves along quite smartly. I don’t know what you are on about with the back seat – full size humans fit in the back of mine just fine. It’s not a limo, but for a such a short car 4 people can go out to dinner in it just fine. BTDT, and neither myself nor any of my friends are exactly SMALL.

            Somehow back in the day we used to manage just fine with cars like VW Rabbits and early Civics that had 30 fewer HP and weighed not a lot less. My Abarth has just about exactly the same amount of interior space as my old ’84 Jetta GLI, if anything the back seat room is better, since the car is much taller. Speeds are no faster now than they were 25 years ago, if anything most of the time congestion means you are going a lot slower anywhere near an urban center.

            Only in America do people think they need 300hp to go to the grocery store.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            No, we didn’t manage “just fine” with those cars. You believe that we did because, at the time, you were probably still playing with Matchboxes and pedaling around in your Cozy Coupe.

            Those of us who were driving real cars remember underpowered cars that required you to turn off the air conditioning if you wanted to merge on to a highway from a dead stop or make it up a long grade without losing speed. And that was with the national 55 mph speed limit.

            Those were the bad old days, and we have no desire to return to them. So if that means having 300 horsepower to get to the grocery store, so be it. I like driving at 75-80 mph with the air conditioning running, and the engine not sounding as though it will explode at any moment.

            And, yes, speeds are faster on the open road than they were 25 years ago. I was around then, and very few people cruised along at 80 mph, as they regularly do today. Not everyone lives in Los Angeles or Boston or New York City, or only drives during rush hour.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Geeber

            I’m 45. My first car was a 4yo ’82 Subaru GL 4dr with all of 78hp. It had more than adequate performance, and more than adequate interior space. I drove 80+ in that car, with the A/C on, all the time. Rt 128 around Boston was far MORE of a racetrack back then that it is now. I drove an ’84 VW jetta GLI for many years after that. As I said, less interior space than the Fiat 500, and no faster than a base 500, but considered a pocket rocket back then.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            I misjudged your age; please accept my apologies.

            If you were driving mostly around Boston, you weren’t encountering many long, steep hills.

            For Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or even San Francisco, I’m sure that a Fiat 500 (or Mini, or Fiesta, or Fit) is quite handy. But most people don’t limit their driving to one particular area. We regularly drive 1-3 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-81 to visit relatives. The larger size and greater power of our cars is appreciated, particularly with two small children.

            Speaking of children, note that, in the 1980s, mandatory child restraint laws were just starting their spread throughout the nation. Those laws meant that you could no longer just put the kids in the back seat without somehow restraining them.

            Meanwhile, the advent of air bags meant that children were not supposed to ride in the front seat of the car.

            Mandatory child seat laws, along with an aging population and air bags, pretty much killed the coupe market in this country. They also increased the demand for more usable – and more easily accessed – back seats, even in sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And I regularly drive from Maine to DC. And I have driven the length of the PA turnpike many, many times. Sorry, there is no rational standard by which a 2400lb 101hp car is underpowered. It’s FUN to have all kinds of power, but it isn’t necessary.

            Europe has all the same child protection laws we do, and they manage just fine with reasonably sized and powered cars. At MUCH higher speeds than most Americans would feel comfortable with. A 1.6L Golf will go all day at 100+mph on the Autobahn. For a couple hundred thousand miles. And having driven Munich-Stuttgart-Berlin-Stockholm over the course of a three day weekend, I can assure you that Europe is nowhere near as small as many here think it is, and Europeans drive long distances on holiday just like Americans do. In fact, while I was in Sweden I saw a Fiat 500 towing a camper that was bigger than the 500 with Spanish plates!

            I find it insane that the average American pays for 300hp then never uses more than 1/2 of it. I usually outran most other traffic in my 58hp Peugeot 504 diesel. That car would cruise all day at 75mph. And this is in New England, where compared to most of the rest of the country people drive like race car drivers!

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Europeans drive fewer miles annually than Americans. This has been measured, and Americans drive more. No doubt some Europeans take long vacations, but they simply do not drive as much as Americans do.

            The overwhelming majority of people driving very fast on the Autobahn are driving Benzes, Audis, BMWs, along with the occasional Porsche. Garden-variety VWs, Fords, Opels and Fiats generally travel along at about 75-80 mph – which is roughly the same speed most people drive on interstates over here.

            Once you leave Germany, the national speed limits top out at 80 mph (France and Italy), with the Netherlands and Great Britain at lower rates (74 mph and 70 mph, respectively).

            Those speed limits aren’t higher than the speeds at which most people really drive in the United States. If anything, real speeds are probably higher in the wide-open areas of the American West, given that American enforcement tends to be more lax, particularly in rural areas. I doubt that anyone wants to drive a Fiat 500 across Texas or Wyoming at 85 mph.

            So most Europeans probably aren’t driving faster than their American counterparts. There are probably more opportunities to safely drive in excess of 80+ mph in this country than in Europe.

            There is a considerable difference between “can power the car without the engine exploding” and “can do it quietly and with confidence.” No doubt most 1980s cars could achieve the former; but today’s cars can achieve the latter.

            Today’s cars aren’t just more powerful. They offer far superior control of noise, vibration and harshness compared to cars of the 1980s. That was achieved through more bracing and stiffer bodies, which required more weight (and more power to move it).

            The demand for superior refinement was spurred, ironically enough, by the success and prestige of high-end European cars (mostly German), which have hardly been lightweights.

            If you are driving longer distances, and at 75-80 mph, you want that power, along with more refinement.

            Increased use of high-strength steel, and possibly aluminum, will help car makers reduce weight while delivering the suppression of noise, vibration and harshness that today’s customers demand.

            As for Europe managing with smaller cars and child-protection laws – European countries have very low birth rates (in Germany and Italy, the challenge is a falling population).

            It’s interesting to note that one of the fastest growing segments in Europe is small crossovers, so it looks as though Europeans with families don’t want to drive around in Fiat 500s, either.

            If technology has allowed people to enjoy something better than the bare minimum in cars or anything else, why not enjoy it? I could survive with an outhouse and only one pair of pants and one shirt to wear all week, but why not enjoy the benefits of indoor plumbing and the opportunity to wear clean, fresh clothes every day? It’s the same with enjoying roomier, more powerful vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Geeber,

            I don’t know WHEN you spent your time in Germany, but I spent a month driving all over northern Europe summer of ’11 when I picked up my BMW. Standard flow of traffic speed of all the “ordinary” cars on the unrestricted Autobahn was over 100mph. Golfs, Fiestas, minivans, you name it. I can post video if you like. Fast traffic was 125mph or so, with the occasional low flying aircraft Porsche, BMW, or Benz. In France it was 95mph. In the Netherlands 85mph. In Sweden it was 85mph. I can tell you from much experience in Easter Europe that 100+ is perfectly ordinary all over there, with minimal traffic enforcement. Just like here, people speed. heck, it’s easier there, in Sweden they post SIGNS when there is going to be a speed camera. Minor speeding tickets are just a minor expense to be paid in most countries, they don’t even affect your insurance rates per my Dutch and Swedish friends I was with. I spend roughly 125 days a year travelling all over the US for my job – NOWHERE in this country are highway speeds as fast as they are in Europe. You are delusional if you think they are. Even out west hardly anyone goes over 75. The fastest flow of traffic speeds in the country are the NJ Turnpike and I-95 in Mass out of rush hour, maybe 85mph at best, usually 75-80.

            Europeans don’t drive as far on average because they don’t have ridiculous commutes so they can have a McMansion in some distant suburb. What you get are a good number of people who barely drive at all, and a goodly number of people who do drive a lot – company car drivers, salesguys, that sort of thing. They certainly drive more on vacation, because Europeans actually GET VACATIONS. Most of them get at least 5-6 weeks a year, vs. the 2-3 Americans are lucky to have. Most of Germany and France still shuts down for a month in the summer! Trust me, I got stuck in the summer vacation traffic on that trip. I would say people are much more likely to fly on vacation here, because they don’t have time to drive long distances. Low birthrates? Who cares, people still have kids!

            Yes, cars are getting bigger obviously. But that means even a small car like a FIAT 500 is perfectly capable of anything you would ask it to do on the highway or in the city. Have you ever even ridden in one? A base Pop automatic will go 85mph quietly and calmly all day long. They even ride nicely. It’s no S-class, but it isn’t a ’74 Civic either. I’ve rented several, which is why I ended up buying an Abarth. Which I have quite happily driven from Maine to DC. It’s not quite quiet as a Pop on the highway, but that is ok, it’s still as quiet as any average car of the 80s.

            If you want a bigger car, fine, but don’t try to tell me a Fiat 500 (or any other smallish car) isn’t capable, because that is pure ignorant BS.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            If you believe that hardly drives over 75 mph in the American West, YOU’RE the one who is delusional.

            In Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Utah, 75 mph is the MINIMUM speed. Drive at that speed, and you will be passed by a steady stream of traffic cruising along at 80-95 mph. (Trust me, that has happened to us numerous times.)

            Your contention that hardly anyone in western states drives any faster than 75 mph is not true, or, as you put it, ignorant BS.

            As for your experience in Europe – that was not my experience. Some cars were driving along at 100+ mph, but most were driving along at 75-80 mph. Same in Italy. The average speed was about 75-80 mph.

            I even recall a study that showed most traffic was traveling at about 75-80 mph on the Autobahn (can’t find the link – it was a few years ago.) Also note that there are stretches of the Autobahn where the speed is limited to 80 mph.

            It FELT faster because the car was noisier (we rode in a VW Polo), and, of course, all speeds had to be converted to miles per hour to make an accurate comparison with American driving speeds. I’m sure that 120-130 kilometers per hour seems really fast in a VW Polo, and moderately fast in a BMW…until you do the conversion and realize it’s about 75-80 mph.

            krhodes1: Europeans don’t drive as far on average because they don’t have ridiculous commutes so they can have a McMansion in some distant suburb.

            You’ll have more credibility if you rely less on shaky generalizations and more on real-world knowledge of how people actually live.

            Leaving aside the fact that not everyone wants to live in a tiny urban house or apartment, this country is much larger and more spread out than European countries. It always has been and always will be. Our population density, for example, is not even 1/6 the level of Germany’s population density.

            That lower population density influences real estate prices and the use of space. It also allows more people to move away from the center city, which is hardly a bad thing. (You might want to review how most American urban residents lived prior to the construction of the great suburbs after World War II. Let’s just say their lifestyles and living conditions weren’t anything like what you see on an episode of Sex and the City, and leave it at that.)

            These factors mean that we will never be quite like Europe, no matter how much you want us to be. It doesn’t mean that one country or continent is “better” or more enlightened than the other. It just means that residents, reacting to available space, which, in turn, influences real estate prices, have different preferences. This is normal and natural.

            Even in the small town where I grew up, plenty of well-to-do and even middle-class people prefer to live in the country and commute to employers in town or located right outside of town.

            We live one hour from my family, and three hours from my wife’s family. Regular visits alone rack up a fair number of miles on both of our cars. Our drive from Harrisburg to Indiana, Pa., takes 3 hours each way. That’s a weekend visit for us. For many Europeans, that’s a major vacation.

            All of those factors – families who are spread out more, people able to live in more rural areas – influence the number of miles driven per year.

            krhodes1: They certainly drive more on vacation, because Europeans actually GET VACATIONS. Most of them get at least 5-6 weeks a year, vs. the 2-3 Americans are lucky to have. Most of Germany and France still shuts down for a month in the summer!

            That doesn’t prove that they DRIVE more, unless they spend the entire 5-6 weeks of vacation driving around. Again, in Germany, a three-hour drive is considered a major vacation. Over here, that’s a weekend getaway.

            krhodes1: Trust me, I got stuck in the summer vacation traffic on that trip. I would say people are much more likely to fly on vacation here, because they don’t have time to drive long distances.

            Which undermines your contention that those Europeans are living the high life while Americans are too poor to even take a vacation. Flying isn’t exactly cheap, and then you have to rent a car when you arrive, which requires more money.

            krhodes1: Low birthrates? Who cares, people still have kids!

            It definitely matters. Having children influences where a person lives, what type of job he or she takes and what type of vehicle he or she drives. A lower birthrate alone will make people more willing to drive smaller cars.

            Now, I’m certain that people with children could live with a Fiat 500. After all, people with children lived with horse and buggies, not to mention outhouses, for decades.

            That doesn’t mean that people who reject a Fiat 500 for a larger, more powerful vehicle are doing it solely for selfish, or ego-driven reasons. Guess what – people in EVERY country who can afford to do so ALWAYS trade up to more comfortable cars, houses and a host of amenities and conveniences that make live easier and more comfortable.

            At any rate, I’m not inclined to listen to someone who has never had children when it comes to vehicle choice (or much of anything else), as he or she has no idea as to what is involved with raising children in 2014 America.

            krhodes1: Yes, cars are getting bigger obviously. But that means even a small car like a FIAT 500 is perfectly capable of anything you would ask it to do on the highway or in the city. Have you ever even ridden in one? A base Pop automatic will go 85mph quietly and calmly all day long. They even ride nicely. It’s no S-class, but it isn’t a ’74 Civic either. I’ve rented several, which is why I ended up buying an Abarth. Which I have quite happily driven from Maine to DC. It’s not quite quiet as a Pop on the highway, but that is ok, it’s still as quiet as any average car of the 80s.

            Generally, people want more than vehicles that are “perfectly capable.” Fortunately, we can afford them. I’m sure that a Fiat 500 Abarth can be a lot of fun.

            But, I have other priorities for a vehicle. I’m not about to stuff two child seats, two children, and the assorted paraphernalia that go with them into a Fiat 500…or Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit.

            krhodes1: If you want a bigger car, fine, but don’t try to tell me a Fiat 500 (or any other smallish car) isn’t capable, because that is pure ignorant BS.

            And you’re not going to tell me or anyone else that everyone who wants a bigger car is selfish, or too clueless to know better, or driven solely by ego in their purchases. Which, in this thread and others, has been your original contention.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Geeber, this is getting old, so here is my last comment on this subject.

            I really don’t care what you (and I don/t mean you personally) drive. If you feel you need a Canyonero for your daily solo commute, more power to you. I reserve the right to think you are stupid, but ultimately I don’t care. I DO own a Range Rover, after all. Hard to come up with a less efficient vehicle than THAT. What irks me is people saying that they could NOT POSSIBLY drive a small car (or a slower car, or whatever), because blah, blah, blah. Yes, you could, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you just choose not to. Which is perfectly fine.

            As I said, I travel for work better than 120 days a year. I was in Hartford, CT last night overnight, 450 mile roundtrip in 36 hours, plus about 14hrs working onsite. The beginning of the week I was in Detroit for a few days, last weekend I was in NJ. Week before that I was in Denver all week. Week before that I was in rural MN. Day after tomorrow I will be in Houston for three days. Next week I will be in San Francisco. Week after that will be in Ohio. Then Dallas. I was in your area just a couple months ago. And lest you think I spend all of my time in urban centers, in my previous job I traveled just as much, but almost exclusively to extremely rural areas. The Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Northern MN and WI, the deep South, Appalachia, New Mexico, you name the end of the earth, I have spent time there. Not unusual for me to have flown into Denver and driven 5-600 miles to get to my work site. I did that for NINE years. You evidently spend most of your life within 3hrs of Western PA. Which of us has a better idea of how people drive in different places around these great United States? I have probably driven in more states in the past couple months than you have in the past several years.

            Similarly, relatively recently I drove my own, US model (thus MPH speedometer) BMW *4000* miles around Northern Europe from Paris to Stockholm and every capital city in-between, and crossed the Baltic to Helsinki as well. You evidently got driven around Germany at some point in the back of a VW Polo. Which of us is more likely to have a better idea of what driving over there is like? Despite Americans thinking otherwise, Europe taken as a whole is not THAT different from the US taken as a whole. Driving (or living) in rural Sweden is not the same as driving or living in urban Germany, just like Maine is very different from New York City.

    • 0 avatar
      1998redwagon

      we live in cities and towns but we do not stay there. we drive to other cities and towns to work and play. our urban density is no where near what it is in other portions of the world hence the drive becomes a necessity and perhaps counter-intuitively we want to do it in a spacious vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      The 500 does not fit people. Simple as that.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        What is this? A car for ants? It has to be at least….three times bigger!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        BS! I had my 6’2″ self and 3 other 6 foot buddies in an Abarth…and we drove places! Don’t gimme that.

        • 0 avatar
          Stumpaster

          BS I am 6-2 and my Abarth driver is 5-8 and his wife in the back is 100lbs and my head in front passenger seat was rubbing against the top of the door. It’s ridiculous.

          But the best part is that crash test where 500′s door hinges break off.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Stumpaster

            This suggests to me that the 100lb wife, who I assume normally rides in the passenger seat, had the seat cranked all the way up. I am a very long torsoed 6’2″ and I have enough headroom in my Abarth to wear a helmet and auto-cross the thing. It has INCHES more headroom than my Range Rover does. So BS on you, mate.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’m sure there’s a pretty broad definition of “city” involved in that number. And it’s not like the streets of Akron are as narrow as those in old Boston. America has very few cities were micro-cars make sense.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The definition of “metropolitan area” generally includes the suburban counties located around the actual city itself. Those counties are where the suburbs are located. Some of the outlying areas of those counties are almost rural in character.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The 500 is not even remotely a microcar. It is a short hatchback in the manner of the original Honda Civic and VW Rabbit. That makes it a small car by modern standards, but a Smart car or Scion IQ it is not. Even the base 500 Pop will cruise the interstate very comfortably at 85mph. My Abarth is perfectly happy at 120. It has enough room for 4 normal sized people and some shopping, or two and a couple weeks luggage. I’ve never gotten less than 30mpg out of the Abarth, driving it like I stole it. Great fun, though certainly not for everyone, nor would I necessarily want one as my only car.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I’d say the comparison of the 500 to a 20 year old Civic hatch is fair. The proportions are a bit different which gives the 500 the impression of being smaller than it is, but park it next to a Civic hatch and it becomes obvious it isn’t as micro as it seems standing on its own.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      The vast majority of the American market would probably eat a Fiat 500 if they got the chance. Big Fat People and Small Cars don’t mix.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        In my experience, and as someone living in central Alabama most of his life– no one under 346lbs ever purchased a Ford Festiva with their own money.

        Small cars are bought by the biggest people, not the fancy people. This may have changed in other parts of the United States, though.

        Basically, it’s still 1998 in Birmingham. I have a friend that still wears plastic braided chokers, and saw someone(a hospital registrar) wearing what could only have been synthetic crushed velvet just this afternoon.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          There’s something to this. I’ve bought more than a few Focus hatches and Civic coupes with completely flattened and destroyed seats. I remember even as a kid, the 300lb babysitter and her 300lb husband bought a Chevette! That poor car groaned in discomfort. The only thing I can gather from this phenomenon is less money spent on gas means more money for food.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “full size humans fit in the back of mine just fine”

      When I set the rear seat headrests as high as they will go and sit in the back seat, the headrest is perfectly positioned to snap my head clean off in the event of an accident. The top of it hits me right at C1. Unless your passengers are under 5′, it’s a two seater.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Just because he was “forced” to bring the 500 here doesn’t mean the 500L had to be so ugly..

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      QFT.

      500 is a good looking small car. The 500L just looks confused.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I think it has a glandular problem.

      • 0 avatar
        asapuntz

        dunno about beauty contests, but I thoroughly enjoyed driving a 500L (diesel) for 2+ weeks. interstates, cities, villages, tight mountain roads, dirt roads … it’s not a go-kart, but handling was fine.

        roomy, excellent visibility, comfy seat, good infotainment, good storage, sensible interior layout

        manual shifter was avg (not BMW/Mazda). Hill-hold was convenient. stop-start not as much, but easily turned off.

        the whole experience was significantly nicer than my Kia Soul weekend rental.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Exactly. The 500 has done well, and you see a lot of them in populated areas. The 500L is just ugly.

      I can understand why J Random European might see past the looks, Fiat is a known quantity there. Americans will buy an ugly American or Japanese car any day of the week, but they won’t buy an ugly car from an unknown brand.

      About Marchionne: does he whine continuously, or does he save it for interviews? Also: how many interviews does he give? It seems like you could have a daily Marchionne QotD column.

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        The 500 has bombed . Sales figures from FCA being greatly exaggerated and nowheres near resembling the Truth . Fact is the sales numbers reported by FCA in Canada as well as the US greatly exceeds the actual amount having been imported to both countries .

        So either FCA is selling Futures in FIAT 500s or … more than likely are lying thru their teeth . As has been FIAT SpAs Modus Operandi for going on now some 50 odd years .

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The dealers signed up for the 500 and they got the 500. What else were they promised?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They signed up for multiple Fiat models and Alfa. All they got was the 500 with a manual transmission to sell to shiftless people.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Did they really? What was specified in the contract? What models?

        Pardon me if I don’t have much pity for a dealer who didn’t get it in writing. Actually, take that back. A lot of dealers do things by their word. Many more than people give credit.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    But Who made them fake J-Lo fake driving a 500 in fake Brooklyn?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Maybe he meant the 500e, a compliance car that most reviewers like more than the 500 gas.

    And then there’s Alfa.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    Fiat would be doing a lot better in the U.S. if they sold the Panda here, rather than the very disappointing 500L. Of course, if they wanted my money, they would have to import the Multipla.

  • avatar
    johnharris

    >>>>All we’ve gotten are the 500 and 500L, which are both unsuited to the vast majority of American tastes and driving conditions.
    >>>>

    From the link in the article, we see these 2013 US totals:

    66,502 – MINI
    43,236 – Fiat

    Not Toyota volume, but still, that’s a lot of middling-to-upscale small cars. 110,000 here, 110,000 there, pretty soon we’re talking about real numbers of people who DO think these cars suit Americans. (Says this MINI owner.)

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      That included something like 4-5 mini models and 2 fiat. Not that the other models are popular but since Mini is a known quantity and the Fiat is still fairly unknown introduces an interesting discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Good point. I love both cars but I Think 500 is better suited to the US market and MINI is doing OK. These premium small cars are a new thing and they seem to be sticking around so either the US market tastes are changing or the need for these cars was always there or it has to do with gas consumption awareness…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Our local Fiat store is a slot in the mall, located across from Talbots.
    Three cars fit in there quite nicely. One saleslady.
    I assume they have the service bays at one of the other brands the dealer group sells.
    I think that was the right way to go, minimal investment and very low overhead without appearing “cheap”.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If this is true, would it have really been that hard to slap a crosshair on it and call it a Dodge Colt instead of opening entire showrooms?

  • avatar
    amazingtoys

    I agree. There certainly must be less costly ways of bringing high-mpg Fiats to the US without establishing a new dealer network with the additional costs involved.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I’m glad Sergio brought the 500 over. Lots of them here in Vancouver, they are a perfect city car or a second car for people in the burbs.

  • avatar
    gtrslngr

    Yeah right ! And the government also made Marchionne renege on each and every bargain he came to terms on with the UAW , CAW as well as the Italian Autoworkers Union …. made Marchionne break every promise he made to the Italian , Canadian and US governments …. not to mention made Marchionne try to lie cheat and steal his way into an IPO [ which failed ] .. along with making poor little Sergio lie to the banks as well .. forced the sad little Stronzetto to lie about every car manufactured under his tenure … manipulated Marchionne into breaking almost every term of the contract he had signed with the US government as well as the UAW Pension Funds…gave Stronzetto no choice but to take FCA’s World HQ out of Italy and NOT bring it to the US but rather to the UK etc who have no vested interest in FCA what so ever instead …. absolutely held a gun to Marchionne’s head so he’d express his blatant ingratitude for the US tax payer GIVING him Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep by stabbing all of us in the back …. etc etc etc ….

    …. and NEWS FLASH .. is now demanding that all FCA employees take a reduction in pay as well as today threatening the Automotive Consumer in general with Mafia tactics intimidation … claiming if any FCA cars are recalled in the future it will cost the Consumer big time … and not FCA

    So yeah . Lets all hold a moment of silence in support of the poor little abused Stronzetto Marchionne [sarcasm intended ] … or rather …. lets employ some Spanish Inquisition tactics on the little Emperor .. or better yet … let our Wise Guys deal with the CanaTalian pile of scum

    Jeeze . Justin Beiber ? Stronzetto Marchionne ? Celine Dion ? Gotta tell you … before this decade is over them Canadians will be having a lot to answer for , for their ‘contributions’ to the World over the last 20 years .

    Suggestion Canada ? Take them back . All of them . Before retributions are in order ;-)

    We’ll be keeping the good ones though . Fair deal if you ask me .

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Can you stop talking? Or start proving the “facts” you spout with some evidence? Your streams of logic belong on an early 80s sitcom, or a fundamentalist blog.

      Let me know …. if I should /add more ..,, so you can ]][Read[]] It.thansk..,

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        CoreyDL

        #1 Start reading rather than believing every piece of corporate propaganda you are being fed

        #2 If you don’t like reading what I say … then shut yer cakehole and go read something else

        #3 Add more ?Add More what ? Senseless dribble and childishly inane attempts at insults ?

        #4 Should you have the cojones to dare and confront me directly rather than simply spew out a few incomprehensible and futile attempts at insults . Following the generally accepted rules of debate … assuming you’ve never had an education in such things .. the order is ;

        A) I make a specific claim/statement
        B) You then dispute my specific claim/statement with reputable facts : one at a time .
        C) Then I counter your response

        #5) So by all means son . Bring it on ! Lets bang heads on a fact or two you choose to dispute and see who ends up the fool in the end

        All the smart money is on it being …. You !

        BTW – Perhaps a typing lesson or two as well as Contemporary Grammar & Writing Styles for Dummies 101 might be in order ?

        • 0 avatar
          DubTee1480

          “BTW – Perhaps a typing lesson or two as well as Contemporary Grammar & Writing Styles for Dummies 101 might be in order ?”

          This is perhaps… the most… hypocritical thing I’ve read all… day.

          • 0 avatar
            gtrslngr

            DubTee1480 ( or should that perhaps be DubTee420 ? ) – Of course it is . Then again your comment is about the most ignorant and inane one I’ve read all week … so ..

            But do give the course a try . Your ignorance coming to the fore in spades with a comment such as this . And in case this might of missed your attention . I’ve been down this route before . With several other Peanut Gallery little piles of vaporware Zeros & Ones such as yourself . With the same result each and every time

            :-)

          • 0 avatar
            DubTee1480

            GutterSlinger (see, I can make up fun little names out of user names too!):
            You may want to pull out your grammar guide and look up how to use an ellipsis.
            Fact is, you’re using them wrong.
            Not to mention the sentence fragments and other abuses of the written word that result in your posts reading like slash fiction hammered out at 2am by a 12 year old hopped up on Mountain Dew and Hot Pockets.

            Also, fact is, I could really care less what you think of me: if I smoke pot, if I’m “vaporware” (this seems to be another one of those words you don’t seem to clear on the meaning of, such as “fact”), if I’m ignorant (God, do I pine for the days that TTAC was ignorant of you’re existence) or if I’m part of the “peanut gallery”. Sling all the personal insults you want. Fact is, I’m proud to promote TTAC and be associated with the peanut gallery of this site and I generally enjoy reading their comments on the articles here. But I suppose I’ll be keeping my eyes north of the comment section again as I did under the previous EIC. The comment section is starting to read a little too much like an Alex Jones site for my tastes.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I skimmed over all of your nonsense, but this part stuck out as particularly nonsensical.

          “A) I make a specific claim/statement
          B) You then dispute my specific claim/statement with reputable facts : one at a time .
          C) Then I counter your response”

          So in part A) you get to claim whatever you like, and I can only dispute the original statement in B) if I provide you with reputable facts. Part B) is impossible when the items in part A) are imaginary. Logical fallacy has been reached.

          You’re right, they do teach this somewhere! Normally straps and a white jacket are involved. If A), B), and C) are your logic, and the way you form arguments and opinions there is -really- zero hope for you. We don’t even need to bang heads to see who the fool is (in nearly all events, not just the end).

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            A) “Let’s have a duel”

            B) “But, you don’t have a gun”

            C) “Prove that I don’t”

            D) “Ok, BANG! You’re dead, I told you you didn’t have a gun”

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          I’ve been disputing specifics of your bullsh!t almost every time you post and haven’t recieved a response yet.

          I want to know who told you that the Tesla Model S is based on a Z8, or that the Chevy SS is manufactured in the US, for the two most recent examples.

          Welcome to the internet, where it doesn’t matter who you are, unless someone decides to find you; if you speak nonsense, it’s obvious because fact-checking is pretty easy these days. You keep claiming some talents, including writing, and deep insight into several industries. So, how about demonstrating that you can craft a readable sentence that doesn’t insult someone or pump your own ego? I’ve never met a single person who’s created great wealth through their own skill or talent who is still so blithe, defensive, and intent on being such a piece of s#it to other people.

          My guess is premature senility if you’ve actually achieved half of the things you claim, because unless you’re a different person when within range of a stiff jab, you’re absolutely insufferable.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Can we get a selective Herp Derp comment filter like exists for YouTube comments? That’d be really handy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Dude, can you get me some of whatever you’re on?

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        28-Cars-Later ; What ? The Facts and Hardcore Truth ? Sure . Here is the formula . Just invest the time , money and energy into a quality education – have a couple of close relatives in the CH banking industry feeding you the facts – learn to discern rather than taking the news at face value – again take the time effort and energy to cultivate a few close contacts and associates in and thru out the business world – spend a few years consulting for a major High Tech [ e.g. Apple ] manufacture – as well as own and be part owner in a few rather successful businesses – be a creative person who learned how to connect the dots decades ago – have the money and wherewithal to be in the right place at the right time in order cultivate those relationships earlier mentioned – spend time with creative , well read , multi faceted and successful people rather than those choosing the ephemeral and entertaining way out – learn to live life Eyes Wide Open … etc .

        Not the complete formula mind you . But enough to at least get you started . Maybe ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      In fine fettle today, GT. At least over here you know Olivier has to read it. What’s that Tolstoy quote about families?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So… Fiat was given 1.3 billion and essentially a free company if conditions were met. If they lost a billion on Fiat 500 in the US, dot gov’s money was spent to spur economic activity and Fiat is still ahead 300 million and a free company worth many billions. Not seeing the downside.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Me neither! The US govt had the right to make demands in return for handing Chrysler’s carcass over to Fiat PLUS the $1.3B AND the promise that Fiat could buy the rest.

      Part of the O*am* administration agenda was getting suckers to buy tiny cars, hybrids and EVs. As usual, MOST Americans saw right through that ploy and continue to buy what they like best, namely, the F150, the Camry, and SUVs.

      Maybe if the planet had run out of oil things would have been different. But that won’t happen for another 200+ years yet, at the soonest. More oil is found every day, in the most unlikely places.

      • 0 avatar

        If fuel in this country were taxed like Iaccoca, Lutz, Mullaly, and the others have recommended, American buyers would change their purchase habits. The availability of oil isn’t the issue. Our dependence on the world market price of oil is. Even if we sourced all of our consumption in the U.S., it doesn’t change our dependence on the world market price of oil or our vulnerability to OPEC.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Yes, but neither side wants to increase the fuel tax. Too many Republicans don’t trust the funds would be used for roads and bridges while the Dems don’t like fuel taxes because the unproductive have to actually pay them.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yeah, all valid arguments. And because of such diametrically opposed view points, we, as a nation and as a people, stagger on from year to year with the status quo. Are we unhappy? No, but were not improving our conditions either.

            Again, if the oil supply should suddenly dry up, we would see a lot of changes, just like we did in 1973.

            Raising the cost of fuels, no matter by what means, or driven by what causation, is counterproductive to economic growth, much like the policies of the current administration.

            In case anyone hasn’t noticed, big companies prefer to buy back their own stock rather than expand business or make an investment in new-hires. I don’t know about the rest of you guys but in my book this is not a good indicator of economic growth for any nation, much less for the US of A.

            My point: trying to change the buying behavior of the masses by driving up the cost of fuel only causes the buying public to retrench into whatever it is they are most comfortable doing. This may be as mundane as investing repair dollars into the old jalopy instead of using those dollars to spring for a new ride.

            So, to get back to the core of this thread, bribing Fiat to take a dead Chrysler carcass off our hands and making some demands like the 500e being sold in the US in line with the administration’s agenda of introducing more EVs and attempting behavior modification of the unwashed masses, and then sweetening the deal with $1.3B LARGE, is not a bad way to make a deal.

            It isn’t going to work as planned, but then, not much has worked as planned for the current administration. That’s why so many people are still out of work, and the economy behaves like a slug on valium.

            And Sergio is losing money on every 500e they sell.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Scott Brown was seated in the Senate before they could do the final step in the plan: Change the EITC to be refundable in A-segment car leases only.

  • avatar

    In addition to the 500 and 500L… America also got the 500e!!! Whoopie do!

  • avatar
    TW5

    It seems difficult to believe that the US wanted a new brand in the US market, when they were forcing GM to shed so many of its nameplates. If it was part of the bailout agreement, it’s difficult to imagine US lawmakers including FIAT. The Italians, on the other hand, were probably quite keen to sell FIATs in the US.

  • avatar

    I wonder how dealers who invested serious money in Fiat stores feel about Marchionne saying that he only brought the Fiat brand here because he was forced to do so by the U.S. government. They’re already unhappy about the lack of models and Sergio BS’ing them about getting Alfa Romeo product.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Fiat just announced it will manufacture B Segment cars in Poland.

    It will be spending nearly $800 million in Warsaw for the plant.

    It seems many in the US think you need to have 10s of 1 000s of vehicles sold for each and every model to consider it a success.

    Why? We have vehicles that sell less than 1 000 per annum.

    At least this gives the consumer a choice. I find it hard to digest that Sergio was told to furnish the US with 500s. I think it was a decision made at Fiat and maybe spoken at round table discussions with US government bean counters.

    I thought the Japanese had a rigid society, but the US isn’t that much further behind with it’s culture.

    Conform or we will consider you a socialist. This site highlights some of the conformists from the left and right in the US.

    Try and have everything, that is what made the US a great nation.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @Big Al

      Trust me, it is not the entire US. It’s just some of the panther loving wingnuts who hang out on this site. God forbid you like something that isn’t a boring mid-size sedan or CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        And I don’t think panthers would have had anything like their tremendous success if CUVs had existed earlier for arthritic seniors. Buick sedans, either.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “CUVs… …for arthritic seniors”

          I think you may have single handedly killed the CUV

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Funny thing about those arthritic seniors. My Great Aunt (and she is a great aunt), who I have mentioned here previously as driving a loaded Honda Odyssey, recently traded it in for a very spiffy new loaded Impala LTZ. Why? Because as an 82yo heavyset arthritic sweet old lady, she found the Oddy too hard to climb in and out of! She is what we call a good Maine woman, warmth in the winter, shade in the summer.

          My Grandparents feel the same way about my Mom’s Prius-V vs. her previous Routan too.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            As one of those arthritic seniors I can tell you from first-hand experience that climbing in and out of a vehicle can be a painful challenge.

            Personally, I had difficulty getting in and out of a 2014 Impala rental when we were in Phx, AZ during March and April, but no problems getting in and out of our 2012 Grand Cherokee, 2008 Highlander and my 2011 Tundra. And I’m not heavyset at 6ft, 190 pounds.

            We all age differently and different parts of our bodies start to fail on us as we age. It becomes a real problem when neck, back, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles all start to act up at once, but it is a reality for many age 55 and older.

            There may come a time when getting in and out of the Grand Cherokee may become a problem for us because of the height of the seating (even with the suspension lowered) and the wide-swinging doors.

            The bigger, wider doors and seating profile of the Sequoia would be the next logical step for us. We tried it, and we like it.

            There’s no way I could ever comfortably get in or out of a Fiat 500, much less go on any long trip, all scrunched up.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            You are nearly a foot taller than my Aunt, so not surprised that you have no trouble getting into a taller vehicle. There are a lot more 5′ tall seniors than there are 6′ tall seniors, considering how women outlive men.

            I’m taller and much bigger than you, and probably no more limber sadly. I have less trouble getting in and out of my 500 than I did my Grand Cherokee. Or Range Rover. It’s one big reason I prefer the 500 to the Fiesta ST – 4drs in a car this small are tiny. Have you ever actually sat in one? The door is huge, the seat is kitchen chair height. You will not be “all scrunched up”, though the driving position is definitely Italian traditional. Despite appearances, it is not that small a car. It is short, and it is somewhat narrow. But it is also tall, and the doors are big. To put the narrowness in perspective, it is just about exactly the same width inside as a Rabbit or a classic Saab 900. Compared to my BMW, it has far more headroom, but less shoulder room.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, in my case it is not stature but the deteriorating condition of the joints and the debilitating pain that goes along with that.

            Like most men who thought they were invincible and would live forever, I was not always kind to myself during my younger years.

            I owned a lot of cars during my life, mostly used ones, but I know what I look for in a car these days.

            While I believe that cars like the 500 and 500e MAY have a following, I believe that following is limited in numbers.

            That said, if you are happy with yours, that’s all that matters.

            But equally true would be, that if Fiatsler keeps losing money on ANY of its products, they will eventually have to turn them loose as orphans.

            I believe some Dodge owners are feeling the pinch already.

            The 500 and 500e may not be far behind, no matter what mandates the current administration attached to the condition of turning Chrysler over to Fiat in 2009.

            “If it don’t sell, it’ll go to hell.”

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Damn you Obummer! Benghazi! Libtards! gubmint! Barry Soetoro! Hussein!!!!! Umm… Crap. I’m out of stereotypical responses.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Unable to delete the slashes? Are you using Mosaic or posting from a Nokia flip phone?

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      Huh. That was supposed to be a reply to a rant from gtrslinger but the rant seems to have disappeared. Wonder if someone got the dunce cap…

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I bet Sergio was misquoted and he really meant the “500e”

  • avatar

    It is a shame there are not more women posting on TTAC, one would see a more equal balance of 500 haters and 600hp beast haters.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 500 is a good fit for Fiat’s reentry into the US market since it fills a niche for the brand in order to compete with similar hot hatches such as Mini and the Golf. It is entry level, fairly sporty and fun to drive. I see plenty on the road in the NYC area. What other vehicles could they have imported that would have catered to Americans tastes?

  • avatar

    The MINI vs 500 figures are alluring, but ignore the fact that a significant portion – and far greater percentage than MINI – of 500 sales are a combination of daily rental fleet dumps of automatic POPs and extraordinary aggressive subprime promos through Santander, etc.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    What is Fiat’s place supposed to be, if it’s not going to be rebadged Chryslers?

    FCA is a true mess.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Sergio has gone on record stating that the 500e specifically is a compliance car and that alone. My guess is that’s the car he was referring to.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Marchionne’s comment was taken out of context.

      He said that a small car was required as part of the deal. But he also said that “I was going to bring it (the 500), anyway.” In essence, he agreed to do something that he would have done, regardless.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I really like the 500, but it is true that Fiat is not doing well in the U.S. right now. My wife and I visited a Fiat dealer recently and they still had 2013 inventory on the lot.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Sweet! The wife-to-be wants a 500. I want her to get the Turbo. If they’ve got ’13s on the lots, then it sounds like we can find a deal on one.

    I rented a 500 (non turbo) for a while to see. Bouncy ride, numb steering, annoying Hyundai dual-clutch autobox, relentlessly stylish, fantastic exhaust note, astonishingly roomy, and very cheap to buy. Despite being a 1400cc city car, it’s not a transportation appliance — it’s an adorable and insistent puppy tugging at your sleeve to play. It wants you to rev the bejeezus out of it, and you should, because driving a slow car fast (especially one that looks like a cartoon car and has a sexy exhaust note) is FUN!


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