Fiat 500 sales plunged to an all-time low in Canada in January 2015, falling 69% to just 148 units. To be honest, 500 sales were lower in Canada on one occasion. In February 2011, only nine were sold. Then again, the 500 didn’t truly began to trickle into dealers until the following month.
Canadian sales of the 500 were at their strongest in 2012, when volume increased on a year-over-year basis every month and the 500 twice crested the four-digit barrier. In fact, the Fiat 500 ranked among Canada’s 20 best-selling cars in both March and April of 2012.
With the 500L sharing some of the Italian spotlight in the latter portion of 2013, 500 sales dropped 20% in 2013, a record-setting year for the Canadian auto industry. In 2014, another record-setting year for the industry, and with the 500 completing nearly four full years of Canadian availability, sales plunged a further 18%.
Third-quarter sales in 2014 were down 27%. Fourth-quarter volume slid 22%.
Over the last three months, only 598 500s have been sold in Canada. During the same period, FCA Canada sold 1014 copies of the Dodge Dart, a car which is suffering from its own chronic popularity decrease. (November-January Dart sales are down 62%.)
One would have guessed that Canada would be home to Fiat popularity in North America. And one would have been correct, at least initially. (Although the U.S. market is typically eight-to-ten times stronger than the Canadian, U.S. sales of the 500 have only been five times stronger since the car arrived. U.S. decreases haven’t mirrored the Canadian declines in their intensity, but they’re similar in terms of consistency, as the 500 fell 18% in 2013, 6% in 2014, and in nine of 2014’s twelve months.)
But while the Canadian market naturally favours more affordable and efficient cars and the Quebecers more specifically look fondly on even non-Euro subcompacts, the 500 wasn’t new when it arrived and it’s certainly not new now.
Meanwhile, the 500L is a dreadfully rare car, not just in comparison with, for instance, the Kia Soul, but the 500, as well. The 500X appears to be far more carefully targeted to modern tastes, both globally and in North America, but FCA’s own Jeep Renegade may stand in the way of initial 500X success. It won’t be a bargain, either, with all-wheel-drive 500Xs starting at $29,190 in Canada, before destination. You can have an all-wheel-drive CR-V for less.
Yet, there is a bright spot for the Fiat 500 in North America. With 511 December sales, the Fiat 500 set an all-time record in Mexico. One month later, with 422 sales, the 500 broke its January sales record.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.