Quote Of The Day: Mulally Doubts The Cinquecento Edition
It’s been a good day for drama, what with GM losing its CFO, Saab’s principals turning on each other, Carlos Ghosn showing the first signs of losing his grip on his global empire, and Rs and Ds battling over GHGs. But what today was missing in the drama department was a spat between two legitimate stars, a throwdown featuring the hot young celebs of the automotive world. Well, thanks to ASCA.it [via Carscoop], we have it. Speaking to the Italian press, Ford CEO and industry darling Alan Mulally took on Fiat-Chrysler’s up-and-coming global starlet, the Fiat 500, bashing its chances of success in the US.
Mulally also talks of competing with Chrysler and about the market prospects of the Fiat 500 in the United States, provides: ”I do not see big market space for one car in the U.S. more ‘smaller Fiesta.” He added: ”Who has tried has failed.”
Presumably Mulally was comparing the 500 to Daimler’s Smart brand effort, in which an established automaker attempted to bring a new brand and a premium A-segment city car to the US and failed badly. And Mulally isn’t just idly speculating either: if he thought a sub-sub-compact car would sell profitably in America he’d bring Ford’s Ka, which is built on the same platform as the Cinquecento, here and make a fight of it (hell, it’s already appeared in a Bond movie). And with Chrysler’s plan to sell 55k Fiat 500s in the US this year already “a little bit behind,” it seems Mulally’s skepticism may be well-placed.
That Ka looks like it's really hungry. Or in a very bad mood.
Yes, the Fiat is cute. Yes, it will appeal to fashionistas who want something that's not a MINI and don't or can't afford lease payments on a 3-series. Yes, the Fiat is "new" so a lot of people won't notice the baggage in the trunk. That baggage includes: - it's a Fiat, which doesn't bode well for reliability, according to European surveys. - That it's also a Chrysler, which doesn't bode well for reliability surveys. - That it's made in Mexico, which doesn't bode well during the raging Culture Wars. "We bailed out Chrysler so they can build cars in Mexico?" or "Why should I buy a car made in Mexico when I can buy a UAW built car in America?" It's sales will have to rely on fashionistas, and those of us who describe ourselves as "Car guys" and don't mind taking the risk on one of these because they have another car. Sounds like smart all over again.
A good friend bought a Mini - I spent some time with it since I detail cars (second job) and kinda liked it, cute, fun to drive and got plenty of looks from people watching a 225 lb redneck try to get in&out of it. I asked them where the parade was and had anybody seen my fez hat? Anyway - my boy sold the car recently and I had to guess it was due to his wife expecting their first child, no, it was in his words - cause the damn thing is so friggin hard to work on, ask about changing the oil and you're likely to need SPF50000.
Sorry, but I don't think Mulally is right about his one. The comparison to the Smart is not valid, that is a two seater that is weird but not cute, like the 500. In reality, the Mini would be a better car to compare to. It's got all the charisma for thousands less. Add in the fact that gas will probably be $4-5 per gallon soon and I think the 500 will be a big hit for Chrysler/Fiat.