By on October 20, 2016

2017 Fiat 500X TrekkingIt just keeps getting uglier.

In ten consecutive months, U.S. sales at the Fiat brand have declined on a year-over-year basis. The run of declines began six months after Fiat launched an all-new model, the 500X, in America’s burgeoning subcompact crossover segment. The downward trend continued in the third quarter of 2016, through the launch of the Mazda-based 124 Spider. The losses accrued in Fiat’s U.S. showrooms were certainly worsened by 21 consecutive months of decreased volume reported by the aging Fiat 500.

But it’s the 500X that ought to shoulder much of the blame. Wasn’t the answer to the brand’s lack of mainstream appeal surely to be found in a segment that doubled in size in 2015?

Perhaps not.

LIGHT AT THE START OF THE TUNNEL
It wasn’t always doom and gloom for the 500X. After a slow ramp-up, Fiat 500X sales peaked at 2,178 units in October 2015. That’s a relatively small number, to be sure. But Fiat sold more subcompact crossovers that month than Nissan, Mazda, and Mini, with the Juke, CX-3, and Countryman, respectively.Fiat USA sales chart September 2016Yet while segment-wide growth continued after the 500X first crested the 2K marker — year-over-year volume jumped 130 percent in November 2015 and 175 percent in December 2015 — the 500X’s forward momentum was abruptly halted.

By January of this year, Fiat was selling less than half as many 500Xs in America as the company had three months earlier. On a month-to-month basis, 500X sales decreased in November 2015 and then in seven of 2016’s first nine months, horrendous results for a recently launched model.2017 Fiat 500X TrekkingSHELVES STOCKED
Inventories ballooned. Heading into the second-quarter, Fiat dealers had a 140-day supply of 500Xs in an industry that had 65 days of new vehicle inventory. Little changed heading into the third-quarter, with a 134-day supply of roughly 6,000 500Xs, according to Automotive News.

It was during that third quarter that the dearth of demand for the 500X became most apparent.

Fewer than 1,000 copies of the 500X were sold in July, a modest 12-unit year-over-year decline but the lowest total sales for the model since its first month on sale 13 months earlier.

August 500X volume slid 13 percent as subcompact crossover volume rose 5 percent.

In September, sales of the Fiat 500X tumbled to only 839 units, a 26-percent year-over-year drop and a 15-month low.2016 Jeep® Renegade TrailhawkCOMPETITORS’ TAILLIGHTS
Remember that trio of vehicles the 500X had managed to outsell at its peak? Last month, the chronically uncommon Mazda CX-3 sold 80-percent more often than the 500X; the six-year-old Mini Countryman topped the 500X by nearly 200 units; and the Nissan Juke, at an all-time monthly low, outperformed the 500X by a 13-percent margin.

Meanwhile, the boxy Jeep Renegade that shares a platform with the curvy Fiat 500X is the top-selling member of a subcompact crossover category that’s grown by a third this year.

It’s a segment that grew 12 percent during the last quarter, a period in which Fiat 500X sales declined 14 percent. Over the last three months, the Fiat 500X’s direct competitors combined for nearly 15,000 additional sales compared with the same stretch one year earlier.

Yet the 500X, with little to lose, managed to drop 437 sales in the same time span.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?
If Fiat USA can’t succeed where success is virtually automatic, what does the future hold for FCA’s namesake brand in the world’s second-largest automobile market? How does Fiat work its way back in a market where Fiat dealers are each selling an average of one vehicle every two days and fewer than five 500Xs per month?

With four models, Fiat is on track to 34,000 new vehicles in the United States in calendar year 2016, a 10,000-unit sales decline from 2012, when Fiat was a one-model brand in America.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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70 Comments on “At Fiat USA, You Know It’s Bad Because Even The Subcompact Crossover Is Flopping...”


  • avatar
    s_a_p

    Fiats entry into the US market was poorly conceived. I also think that there could be a market for the kind of quirky that is Fiat, but they are not marketed as such, or even marketed at all. I think the most obvious marketing that I saw fiat do is plant a 500 on stage with Jennifer Lopez a few years back. I would also be curious to know if the 500x also lifts its rear wheels in emergency braking situations like the renegade does.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I gather, s_a_p, that you don’t read magazines, watch television, listen to the radio or visit the internet; Fiat’s marketing is in all those places and more.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        I was going to say, although I rarely watch TV, and most of what I do watch is either DVR’d or NetFlix, I have seen several 500X commercials: “Its the car you need, and the one you want” I believe is what the announcer says as two 500X’s in split screen join to form one car on the screen. I saw it several times I believe as I was watching NCIS: New Orleans (Scott Bakula surprised me how good he is in it, and as always I love CCH Pounder, not to mention a lot is filmed within driving distance to me lol) or something on DVR. Although I do skip commercials, I often get the last 5-10 seconds of one before the program comes on.

        Not sure what to make of the profound hate for Fiat. I do prefer the looks of the Renegade over the 500X, and the 500L is ghastly. But, I do like the 500 over the Mini and the New Beetle. I also think the 124 Spider is a looker and I’d be extremely tempted by a true coupe version (not a hardtop convertible). In contrast, I dislike the new Miata’s squinty looks. First Miata without flip-up headlamps I’m not sold on the look of.

        I think FCA could do better if it moved the 500X stylistically away from the 500 (nobody considers them as close as Fiat would like anyway and it looks silly for its stretched resemblance), drop the 500L completely and give the 500 a redesign with emphasis on best in class quality and performance. Possibly include the 5 door marketed along side the 500 with the same name, not a separate model like the 500L. The 500L should be a compact MPV if anything, like a C-Max or the departed and homely Kia Rondo.

        Give Dodge a subcompact 3 and 5 door hatch spun off the redesigned 500 with styling as unrelated as the 500X-Renegade. Strive for excellent economy and handling. Make it more of a Fiesta (fun to drive) than a Mirage/Yaris/Rio (boring penalty box).
        Give US/Canada the Mexican-market Neon, and give Fiat their version as the Tipo to increase dealer traffic. Also give Ram the Toro.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        Someone would have to be an idiot to buy one of these

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          … or willing to go against the grain and take a chance?

          Honestly, the Fiat 500 is a lot of fun and the 500x is a remarkably capable AWD, even if it isn’t a Porsche.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      fix it again, Tony

  • avatar
    jeoff

    I think part of the problem is that it really doesn’t look like a crossover. When I see it, I just see the Fiat face, and I am not thinking crossover at all.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I’m convinced the biggest problem with Fiat was the concept of the stand-alone Studio. The market of people clamoring for Fiats and willing to search out a studio to purchase a car wasn’t large enough. Once all those peopl waiting witrh baited breath to visit a Fiat showroom had their car, now Fiat is just another brand to shop and it’s harder to shop that brand when it it’s standing off to the side unable to be cross-shopped with other choices.

    Hopefully the move to integrate Fiat into the other brand showrooms will pay off.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      I doubt CDJR dealers that don’t already operate a separate FIAT “Studio” will be interested in stocking the 500 and its variants. Perhaps FCA can threaten to hold back Jeep and Ram inventory unless dealers also accept a few FIATs.

      Or better yet, maybe they’ll just give up and stick to Brazil and Italy.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Sergio conned Chrysler dealers into building standalone Fiat stores in part by telling them they had to in order to get the Alfa Romeos they’d be swimming in by 2014, or 2015, or 2016, or 2017, or 2018, or…

      I think the Fiat brand will be dead in the US by the end of 2018.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    You both asked and answered your own question: “Meanwhile, the boxy Jeep Renegade that shares a platform with the curvy Fiat 500X is the top-selling member of a subcompact crossover category that’s grown by a third this year.”

    Except for urban hipsters, who would buy a Fiat crossover when they could buy a Jeep with all of its ‘Jeepiness’. And there are far more Jeep dealers located in potential crossover markets.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Urban hipsters like to lease…and the lease deals on Fiats are s**t. Bad resale = low residuals = not good to lease.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Yet Minis still lease in respectable numbers among that community.
        When a vehicle is a fashion statement rather than a car, then the numbers are not the final determinant.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      real urban hipsters don’t exist outside of eight neighborhoods in the entire USA, stock photos and marketing PowerPoint slides.

      And the number of urban hipsters (who already don’t drive a Mini) with the free cash flow, a need, and a desire for an urban runabout can fill the away team side of your local high school football bleachers.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Urban hipsters are all over the place. It’s not just New York, San Francisco and Seattle — there are lots of smaller cities where they live. Go hang out in a bar in tiny Missoula if you don’t believe me. But only the ones in the big cities make salaries that allow them to drive something other than the de rigueur 15-year-old Jetta.

        • 0 avatar
          FOG

          We try to properly manage the Hipster population in my area with an annual “Hipster Season.” It lasts 17 days because two weeks isn’t very hip. Each license provides the owner the opportunity to bag one female and fifty males. The kill should be unique and thought provoking while also being as painful as possible.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City. Heck they are even creating a community in good old blue collar, steel city Hamilton.

          And are driving much of the condo and home renovation markets and the gentrification of downtown cores in a large number of cities throughout North America.

  • avatar
    FOG

    The problem is that the people at Fiat are trying to drive a U.S. market like it is a european market. My first glimpse of the 500 made me think, “1953 icebox on undersized skateboard wheels.” I am pretty sure I was supposed to think, “Whoa, the world needs to see me behind the wheel of this retro-jem!” The 500L didn’t bring thoughts of a small limousine to mind, rather, “somebody tried to build a car with a balloon animal as a starting point.” I have driven each Fiat product as it has been introduced. The 500X at least looks like a vehicle, but I have no desire to spend that much money for so little performance and comfort. I have not driven the Spyder yet, but I am into that type of car. It is sharp looking and I feel it is the only vehicle in the Fiat U.S. fleet that will survive for any length of time.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “1953 icebox”

      Absolutely perfect. I looked at old family pictures to verify.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The 500L was just a spectacular miscalculation. To start with, it’s a class of vehicle that US consumers have never understood. If you’re going to sell a vehicle like that here, it better be compelling, or have a unique angle, like Ford when it positioned the C-Max as a Prius competitor with more zest. But even in its class in Europe it’s an also-ran, with ugly styling and a poor driving experience. It was doomed to fail from the start.

      On the other hand, I’m really surprised that the 500X is doing so poorly. I would have expected it to at least increase total brand volume.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        What exactly is its market spot? It’s not a low slung hatchback, it’s not a mini-van, it’s not particularly special with people carrying duties (I say even as I have never been in one, but recognize that it’s smaller even than my Escape – also not great at peop l e carrying) and it’s barely a wagon.

        I am one of those Americans that doesn’t understand the point.

        • 0 avatar
          scwmcan

          Having just had a friend buy a 500l I can say that passenger space is greater than the escape (which I have), it drives and rides fine for what it is (not an enthusiast car but it doesn’t need to be). It has lots of features and is comfortable, it has good cargo room, the front passenger seat folds flat so long items can be carried in the car. It to me is muh like the Toyota Matrix, except more comfortable and better riding. My friend was looking for a new one (none are available in Ontario for some reason), but she did wind up getting one a year old with 15,00 km and saved aprox 15,000 on it, so I am glad she didn’t buy it new, it makes a good value slightly used car though. Everyone I know seems to like the styling as well, maybe the fact that it is black helps.

          • 0 avatar
            scwmcan

            Forgot to add that she also tested a 500X and it was quite nice as well, don’t know if it is because of the way she drives to what but the 9 speed was very smooth. I didn’t drive it myself, but it seemed to compare favorably to my escape.

  • avatar
    Island45

    I kinda like the 500X. I wouldn’t give up my car for one, but I tried to convince my wife to buy one as her next car and my suggestion was immediately shut down. It would have been a great car for her as her commute isn’t far and we live just on the outskirts of the city, but she was immediately turned off because she’d seen the other 500s and the 500L and did not like the size or looks of those. For her case, Fiat may have won her over if they made more of a differentiation among the models.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Every American who does her homework knows Euromobiles are dodgy, short-lived junk. Some will still opt for leasing flashy top-tier makes but never Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d take a shot on a 500X lease but the deal isn’t all that great.

      The deal on Renegades is FAR better.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Are you looking at Trailhawk leases?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Just the basic models but the Renegade looks like a far better deal to me. Better resale, I’d think.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Actually, have you ever even seen a Renegade on the street that *wasn’t* a Trailhawk? I honestly haven’t and I look as closely as possible at each one I spot.

            Nobody else wants those low-riding cowcatcher versions, either.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Renegade Trailhawk on the street. All the ones I see are Latitude or Limited, and most of them are rentals.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The majority of Renegades I see where I live (and yes, we see significant snowfall with at least one major storm every year) are Latitudes or lesser models. The Trailhawk is popular, but not everyone is willing to pay nearly $30K for one at local dealerships. Typically it’s between two and three non-Trailhawks for every one Trailhawk I see.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            I see plenty of Renegade’s here in the NYC area in the various trims and options. As far as the 500X is concerned I have seen a number on the road and they look like a sensible package. I wonder if buyers choose them because they are better in foul weather and better packaged than a Juke. Plus the retro styling is far less off putting.

  • avatar
    NN

    No matter what they do, Fiat will be a niche of a niche here in the USA. Looking at their worldwide lineup, they don’t have much of anything that looks like it could sell in volume here. They just need to embrace their niche and try and maintain moderate profitability with the dealer infrastructure they have.

    They have to trade on Italian charm. The Tipo is too bland. The Panda and Punto could come over in their next iterations and help support Fiat’s image as a small car specialist, but they will still sell in low numbers. Same for the Toro pickup, unless they could somehow start pricing at $15k and make it the only true small & cheap pickup. Their ad campaign should emphasize that “small is beautiful” and run with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “They have to trade on Italian charm.”

      That was a possibility back in maybe the ’60s through ’80s but everyone knows Italy is now just one more dysfunctional little Euro relic being internally destroyed by tax cheats and externally too close to izlam.

      Too many garbage strikes and hordes of surly boat people will put the kibosh on charm.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Americans buy two types of cars:

      Sedans and crossovers between 180 and 200 inches long.
      Pickups (which are used as cars)

      Fiat will remain a niche as long as they don’t service those two markets.

      That being said, what’s the problem? Fiat is just one of the many badges available to FCA. Some guy stands at the end of the production line and checks-out the product. If it looks like a truck, he attaches a giant RAM badge. If it looks like a 4/3 scale cartoon version of a vintage car, he puts-on a Dodge badge. If it looks like a cross-trainer he gives it a Jeep “trail rated” badge, if it’s both too small and bloated-looking he uses the Fiat badge, and anything left gets the Chrysler badge.
      They all get shipped to the same dealers in the end, so it’s probably not a very fulfilling career.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Not unpredictable. Fiat manages to have very little appeal to pretty much every demographic.

    It’s not hip enough for hipsters and millenials.

    And anyone older than that probably remembers what a s**t-show Fiats were the last time they were sold here.

    The resale on these is lousy, so the lease deals aren’t very good.

    And the reliability ratings still aren’t great.

    Shame, because I’d kinda dig a 500X in that cool orange-red color.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    You don’t suppose the problem with the 500X is that it has ONE manual option with the turbo 1.4, and all other options are the 9-speed auto with the 2.4? Where’s the 1.8 and 2.0 with manual, or ANY other automatic than the 9-speed? The Renegade also has the 2.4/9-speed auto, but at least offers the 4×4 option. The 500X doesn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “The Renegade also has the 2.4/9-speed auto, but at least offers the 4×4 option. The 500X doesn’t.”

      Doesn’t what, have the 4×4 option? While I’ll grant it doesn’t offer the low-range numbers, the drivetrain is the same AWD as all the Renegades outside of the Trailhawk.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Of all the issues the 500X has, that is not it.

      The big players in this segment mostly have just one powertrain option, or, if there is more than one powertrain option, just one that does the vast majority of the volume. The 9-speed isn’t ideal but it’s not bad enough to doom the product.

      I think FreedMike above pretty much nails the issues.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The 2.4L/9spd combo in the 500X is perfectly fine, and is available with AWD. I thought the fuel economy could have been a bit better, but it performs well.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Part of the issue with the 500L and 500X is their appearance. Rather than being what they are, which is NOT a 500, Fiat has gone out of its way to make them look like the 500. Go to the Italian Fiat page and look at the other models which become obvious sources for the 500L and X and even Fiat is selling these cars in Europe as separate models from their ‘local’ models on the same page.

    Now, despite many less-than-enthusiastic reviews of Fiat’s cars that I’ve seen even here, those cars seem to perform better for me than they do for the reviewers. Yes, I have a few complaints… I’m not a fan of the 10-gallon fuel tank in the larger models–but even the Renegade only carries a 10-gallon tank and can still get more than 300 miles from a full tank of gas with a couple gallons left over.

    As such, Fiat’s biggest issue is not the cars themselves, but the brand name and a 40-year-old reputation that refuses to go away despite the new models’ improvements.

    • 0 avatar
      buzzyrpm

      Agreed. Fiat made an error by trying to spread the 500’s design cues to the rest of its model. The 500 looks great but it’s a small retro box, taking that design to sedans and crossovers doesn’t make sense.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    I for one like 500X over Renegade. Jeep Renegade’s build quality is cr@p compared to 500X. I’ve seen many of them with misaligned doors or trimwork that’s peeling off around windows. I would never be in a market for either one, but i was mildly interested by Grand Cherokee, and if that’s what passes for quality in the Jeep, no thanks.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The 500X is way too expensive for what you get. It’s almost Q3 money with automatic and AWD. The Tiguan, as old as it is, is a much better deal, as are a number of Japanese and Korean crossovers.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    I own a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. It’s been a great car for 35k. Less problems than I had with any of my MINI Coopers. My only complaints with the car have been hard leather seats and no lumbar support, rattily drivers door.

    I’ve had to have the Bluetooth replaced and a Sunroof but other than that I love the car’s performance. The warranty items were fixed with no grief, 1st at Fiat studio, now closed, and now at Chrysler others I know have to drive a long way as their local Chrysler dealerships won’t work on the cars once the local Fiat place closes.

    My complaint’s are with FCA and how they handle dealers, advertising and lack of selections that europeans get like colors and models. I’d have ordered the split clout combo and the ESE model. I also think having a Fiat and a Alfa dealerships is crazy. Put them under one roof so there are models to choose from in many price ranges.

    I’ve been in small hatches, a 2002 & 2004 MINI since 2002 and was looking at the X but with dealerships closing up, I might have to look elsewhere like maybe the Countryman. I was also looking at the Renegade but reviews have been poor.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I agree about the dealerships; I honestly believe that the dealerships themselves, ALL FCA brand dealerships with the exception of a few mom & pop locations, go out of their way to make anything Fiat as difficult to purchase and maintain as possible. The cars aren’t nearly as bad as the vocal majority want them to be.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      I own a ’12 Abarth (bought new in May of that year) as well, with a little over 35k miles. Totally trouble-free miles. I love this car.

  • avatar
    markf

    Not sure why anyone thought the Fiat brand back in the US was a good idea. I am just old enough to remember how terrible they were last time around. Most younger folks either don’t know nor care much about them. The 500 is such an obvious “chick” mobile that the few girls who could get the”cute” car already did. No self-respecting man would drive that turd.

    I spent 5 years in Europe and Fiat is still pretty much “Fix it again, Tony” with Europeans as well. Hey sell because they are cheap. Every time I go on the autobahan or autostrada and I saw a Punto or Panda I just thought “great, I’ll be doing 50kph until I can get around this POS”

    They are terrible, terrible cars

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I’ve only seen a couple of 500s that were being driven by guys. I have seen a few Abarths being driven by guys, and that’s still only four or five of those.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “No self-respecting man would drive that turd.”

      I am a self-respecting man and honestly it’s the most fun car I’ve ever owned… and that includes my Camaro.

      By no means are they as bad as you think they are, mark. Take it from me; I believed the same as you until I actually drove one.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      markf,

      All cars were terrible in the 1970s. Fiats were rare on US roads, but brands like Ford, Chevy and Plymouth were consistently selling steaming piles.

      Little tip: the autobahn and autostrada networks are multi-lane. Just use your indicator (it’s in the owner’s manual), check your mirror, speed-up and get past. Remember to get back into the right lane once you are safely past. Europeans have good lane discipline, they will helpfully honk if you skip any of those steps.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Go drive a Versa then. Sounds like it’s up your alley. Among others, I own a 2012 Abarth and an ’81 X1/9 with 205k miles on it now. Runs like a top and I thoroughly enjoy taking a passenger thru a 90 degree turn at 30 mph. They are great cars, just have to follow recommended mtce schedule which – back in the day – apparently was too much of a challenge for a lot of people. First new car I ever bought was a 1974 X1/9 and it was a great car, only sold it after 6 years because we needed a larger 2nd car with a growing family… still regret not hanging on to it.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    FIAT’s big problem is that the 500x is its ONLY model with mass appeal. EVERYTHING else is niche. For a standalone dealer that’s a problem. Not to mention there aren’t that many FIAT dealers to begin with (I’ve got 3 CJDR dealers 10 minutes away but the nearest FIAT dealer is 30 minutes away).

    A couple more slightly larger SUVs would be beneficial. Something that could be used as a family car, a FIAT version of the upcoming Conmpass or Renegade at the very least. Not having a fuller lineup limits the number of people who will walk into the dealer to “shop” so to speak.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Like others noted, I think the re-launch of the Fiat brand to the US was horribly botched. They tried very hard to imitate MINI, but somehow missed the “cool” factor. In addition, they had a fantastic opportunity to get their product out to all of the US by allowing CJD dealers to carry the Fiat line; but they followed the MINI template too closely. While the opportunity for customization is great, far too many of us in the US buy our cars bland and cheap.

    To that end, Fiat is finally wrangling their product line and offerings into something more workable. I understand that Fiat USA is paring down the number of models and the options, and that CJD dealers are now eligible to have a Fiat Studio as part of their facilities. Hopefully the wider availability and the reduced optional equipment will drive down price and have more people actually see the cars.

    I think the 500X is too pricey for what is offered, most of the ones I see are $25K+ cars; you can get a bigger Chevy Equinox for that money. The Chevy will have much better lease deals and residual value.

    I too, have to drive past two CJD dealers to get to my one FCA superstore that also has Alfa and Maserati. But I’m lucky I live nearby. I think the one closest to me is the only one on this side of Michigan and probably all of Northern Indiana. There’s got to be hundreds of CJD dealers in the region. Can you imagine the exposure Fiat would have if each one of those dealers had a 500 out front?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The models Fiat launched in North America would likely have done better volume simply as rebadged Dodges or Chryslers. The vision was grandiose, but in the end, the dealer network just isn’t there and there just isn’t enough interest in small cars in general in this part of the world.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The Dart and Chrysler 200 were modified, not rebadged, but there’s some Fiat-cheapened FWD Alfa in them, and they didn’t sell. The Dart had too many underpowered engines and not enough automatics, just so they could meet the government’s loan requirements, and the sporty 200 made the same mistake as GM did with the Malibu with too-small rear seats.

        If they’d planned to have in the wings the small 3.2 V6 and the 6-speed auto for the Dart, it would have sold, and the 200 was a personal luxury coupe design with four doors that could have been a decent selling 2-door Cordoba.

        It’s not just that rebadging wouldn’t work, the guys Sergio brought over are clueless about the American market, and Sergio himself is a dealmaker and doesn’t know how to run a car company. If he did, he’d have kept working on addressing the shortcomings of those two models instead of killing them off after spending so much money developing them.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          With low end cars, it’s all about the subvention and price point. The bean counters didn’t have the stomach for it. Your ideas about the products wouldn’t have changed anything except sold one more car to…you.

          Those models did sell when they supported them, and even when the Dart and 200 weren’t supported, they still blew away any Fiat model’s numbers because of their advantage of a larger channel. Simply flooding existing CDJR lots with Dodge branded 500s would have sold more units by virtue of exposure. The Fiat brand has the specific disadvantage of a much smaller channel than DCJR brands, though FCA is now allowing Chrysler dealers with Fiat franchises to bring them into the same showroom to keep the dealer base from shrinking.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I don’t imagine that the “Dodge” 500 would have sold well, I believe that most folks would have seen right through the facade. Maybe if FCA would anthropomorphize the car a bit, by using a “heritage” name like Topolino, people would warm up to it more. MINI is a name, but 500 is a quantity in search of a label.

            I do think there are/were other Euro-Fiat models that could have sold as re-branded Dodges (Panda). It could have slotted in under the Dart. That was one part of the problem with the retail sales of the Dart; the Avenger beat it on price and there was nothing below it to sell “up” to.

            With the loss of the Dart and the 200, I believe we will see US showrooms adopt a similar line up as the Mexican dealers. I imagine a Dodge-branded, Turkish-built Tipo in form or another and maybe the Mitsu Mirage rebranded as they are in Mexico. Although, with the new “alliance” between Nissan/Renault and Mitsubishi, we’ll see how long FCA will continue to sell those cars.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Too bad. The 500X is actually a pretty nice little car. I took one on a 600 mile road trip a few weeks ago and ended up liking it. The only real disappointment was the fuel mileage, averaging about 24mpg. My Pacifica easily bests that with the same driving habits (kinda fast).

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    The 500X seems to get good reviews, the 500L is much nicer to live with than look at (and now comes in a blacked-out trim that makes it look much better), and the regular 500 in any of its flavors is a joyous puppy tugging at your pant leg. I’m convinced that what lets them all down is the terrible, terrible seats. If you can already tell in a 10 minute test drive that you’d be uncomfortable on a trip and that there isn’t enough lateral support even for making a turn onto another street without bracing with your foot, then you’re not going to buy the car, and you’re going to wonder what else was poorly executed.

    A shame, because with the exception of the spendy 500X, they are all incredibly cheap to buy and brimming with cheeky character.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Although 500X and Renegade are as close to each other as original Compass and Patriot, they are sold at different dealerships. Every time I see a FIAT dealership, it’s a former indoor flea market building, or some other such random facility. This is really not helping. In addition, Renegade has a much better headroom and internal volume. It is rated to tow 3 times as much (which is mind-boggling, considering that mechanicals are identical). Not only there’s no such thing as 500X Trailhawk, you can’t even have an AWD 500X with 1.4 turbo. I suppose not everyone is as obsessed with the headroom as I am. And other differences seem minute as well. But it all adds up.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Fiat.
    Is.
    Not.
    Marketing.
    Right.

    Where are the commercials? The billboards with catchy phrases? Where is the advertised practicality of the larger cars? Why is everything named “500” which people automatically associate with a car too small for them?

    You don’t just set up hipster “studios” and expect people to flock in. You have to advertise the hell out of your products, especially for a brand that few people understand. Everyone who wanted a Fiat, myself included, already has one.

    The 500L should have been named 600, and the 500X named something else as well.


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