By on August 11, 2016

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, Image: FCAThe fourth-generation ND Mazda MX-5 Miata is undoubtedly, indisputably, undeniably the best addition you could make to your garage.

Some people disagree.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported 480 U.S. sales of the Fiat 124 Spider in July 2016. The Spider is a thoroughly transformed version of Mazda’s fourth Miata: different body, distinct suspension tuning, unique powerplant.

With the 124 Spider’s arrival in the United States, 13 months of Mazda MX-5 Miata sales growth came to a screeching halt.

Mazda USA reported a 22-percent year-over-year drop in MX-5 sales. With volume down to 881 units, U.S. MX-5 sales fell to a five-month low precisely one year after sales of the MX-5 rose to a seven-year July high.

Coincidence? Who cares — total Hiroshima-built roadster sales jumped 20 percent in July, good news for any enthusiast who wants to see the MX-5 live a long and prosperous life.2016 Mazda MX-5 WhiteMAZDA
The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 has certainly been warmly received, both by critics (especially) and by U.S. car buyers. But the MX-5 is far from the raging success it once was, nor did Mazda expect it to be in a world which awaits autonomy and worships at an altar topped by Range Rovers, Escalades, and G-Wagens.

Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see Mazda seek out more use for its rear-wheel-drive platform; nor was it surprising to see FCA — always in search of partners — come together in a roadster marriage.

Mazda sold nearly 36,000 Miatas to Americans in 1990. But the launch of the second-generation Miata resulted in barely more than half that many sales. Mazda didn’t quite sell 17,000 MX-5s with the launch of the third-generation model in 2006. Expect only 11,000 MX-5 sales in the U.S. in 2016.

FIAT
The addition of the 124 Spider to the Fiat range did not stop Fiat sales from falling in the U.S. in July. Brand-wide volume tumbled 14 percent because of a 44-percent 500 decline and a 28-percent 500L drop.

The 500X’s eight-unit improvement and the 124’s 480 extra sales were more than cancelled out, in pure volume terms, by a 930-unit decline from the 500 and 500L.

With four models, Fiat sold 2,754 new vehicles in the United States in July 2016. The brand’s best-ever July occurred two years ago with 3,807 sales sourced from two models.

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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37 Comments on “Coincidence? 13 Months Of Mazda MX-5 Miata Sales Growth Stops As Fiat 124 Spider Arrives...”


  • avatar

    I wonder how many of those 2,754 Fiat sales were to rental fleets.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    After Fiat’s US operations collapse and the dealers close, will 124 owners be able to get their cars repaired at Mazda dealers, or will they be out of luck?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      They can re-work the headlights, slap on a boattail and rename it the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Duetto or some such.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree, it should have been an Alfa spider. Easy to imagine that brand’s trademark triangle grille on the front end. The 124 looks like some supplier in aftermarket parts pasted body kits on the MX-5 to make it look like a new version of the former classic. The Abarth looks even moe dreadful. I mean, four tailpipes on a 4-cyl. car… really?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Doctor

      It depends, it’s on a Mazda chassis but it’s got the Mutiair engine out of the FCA parts bin. You could probably get it serviced at an FCA dealer since the powertrain and ancillaries are of FCA design.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I guess it could go the way of the original 124 Sport Spyder and the X1/9, and get re-branded under the stylist’s name, but I can’t find a name of the stylist.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          dukeisduke,
          The X1/9 had a relatively short life here in Australia.

          Thanks for bringing up your comment. This vehicle had completely slipped my mind.

          Personally I thought they were quite ugly, or more accurately, ungainly.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            No accounting for taste, later years were encumbered by the 5mph bumpers, but the ’74 is considered a classic design by Marcelo Gandini of Bertone.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      Probably not under factory warranty, but otherwise, I’m sure almost all Mazda dealers would be happy for the business.

      But it will tear down resale value as most consumers don’t understand that.

      I went through something similar when I bought a Saab 9-2x, basically a Subaru WRX clone. When I saw Saab was possibly going under, I quickly sold, I didn’t want to try and sell an orphan brand. Glad I did, Saab prices collapsed, including the 9-2x.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    If I didn’t need a decent SUT, I’d go for one of these… but getting my wife out of her Fiat 500 would be like pulling teeth.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Vulpine, if I didn’t still adore my 2012 Abarth and also have a well-sorted X1/9 for top-off motoring, I go for either one. I think it’s great to have both as choices.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In fairness to the MX-5, we’re hovering at Peak Auto Sales right now, and Mazda brand sales also turning south.

    The arrival of the 124 doesn’t help the MX-5, but it’s not the only reason MX-5 sales are down.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Id think MX-5 sales are down more because everyone who was waiting for the next generation rushed in to buy as inventory became available, and Mazda was able to sell them like hotcakes as a result.

      Now that the pent up demand has been satisfied, sales will likely tail off a bit as prospective new buyers mull over the very limited seating and storage of a $30000.00 tiny convertible (which I happen to like!).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SCE to AUX,
      I agree with you.

      What I would like to see is Toyota bring back a 21st Century MR2. Imagine a modern supercharged 2 litre engine in something the size of one of these.

      I’d bet that would throw a spanner in the works in this segment.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Im in! Having owned a first and second gen MR2, Id be all-in for a more modern take on the 1st gen W10. This would also introduce some desperately needed excitement into Toyota’s moribund lineup of cars.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    This reminds me of the old Acura Legend and its British counterpart, the Sterling, the latter was a mitigated disaster.

  • avatar
    Acd

    The Fiat dealers in my area only have a few 124’s in stock and they’re all automatics–no manuals yet that I’ve seen. I also have not seen an Abarth on the website of any of the 16 dealers in a 200 mile radius of my zip code. In comparison Mazda dealers seem to have plenty of MX-5’s on the ground in all colors, models and transmissions.

  • avatar
    Sid SB

    Maybe Mazda has met has caught with the initial demand for the ND and cleared the backlog. Great that they have platform shared and that the Fiat has a different look and engine. The RF will hopefully keep them busy as well. Still think sending the 1.5l to US with a lower MSRP could help with the numbers a bit as well, but whether the cost of showing that the 1.5l meets US emissions is worth the number of sales they would get is a factor. If the 1.5l was @$22k mark, the choices between a used RWD xyz or some hot FWD vs a new RWD MX-5 with 3 yr warranty would bring in some buyers.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    “Mazda sold nearly 36,000 Miatas to Americans in 1990.”

    As hot as they were back then, I think they would have sold every one made.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe Mazda of late has made some poor decisions.

    This sharing of the MX-5 is one. Mazda might be selling a few more MX-5 based vehicles, but how much profit is there in the ones moving over to FCA?

    Add to this the competition and price reduction Mazda will eventually make to move MX-5s.

    Changing the BT50 to an Izuzu is another poor move on Mazda’s part. An Izuzu based BT50 will sell, but I don’t think they will desirable as the Ranger based BT50. Right now the difference between a Ranger and an Izuzu Dmax is quite large.

    The Spider is a better looking vehicle than the MX-5, so I can see the appeal.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    The Miata is a very good car, but the design??? Entre the Fiat 124 Spider! They have a designer!!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Except for that ugly black hood, I like the design.

    As for sales of both Fiat & Mazda, they are down solely because while all the TTACers on here really one one or the other, they’re waiting for used ones because TTACers only buy used, except for me and a few others.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      And they always pay cash with the interest from all the money they have invested. For proof see the comments of any article that references car loans or financing.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Will the 124 appreciate used or depreciate?

      I don’t think our finest minds could predict that outcome.

      I have such love for the 124, but a Fiat turbo drivetrain scares the bejeezus out of me.

      I’ll be looking at these lightly used in a couple of years as a bucket-list purchase. (Edit: The car would probably outlive me).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “The car would probably outlive me”

        With a turbo Fiat drivetrain can I bet against the car outliving you?

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          The 1.4T hasn’t displayed any major issues yet, and it’s been available for 4 years in the US. That’s in spite of the ominous predictions that we all read here and on other car sites.

          Keep it bathed in expensive Penzoil/Ferrari synthetic and it should do just fine.

          The first timing belt change isn’t due until 100,000 miles. That gives owners plenty of time to decide if it’s worth $1,000 to keep it for 10 more years, or if they should move on to something newer.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            Fiat’s Multiair engine range has been in Europe for nearly a decade now, without major issues.

            As much as I like to make fun of Fiat, powertrain reliability is no longer the right joke target. Their questionable build quality and shoddy marketing decisions are more suspect, and this is coming from the owner of a 500L.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          40 years of smoking and drinking, and a lack of exercise enables me to predict that a Multi-Air (with proper maintenance) will outlive me. But medical science does pull rabbits from hats these days – as long as one has good insurance. :-)

  • avatar
    Chan

    I test drove a base manual 124 Spider last weekend. The powertrain is indeed more entertaining than the MX-5. IMO if your sporty inline-4 is not as smooth as Honda’s, you should embrace the agricultural noise and make it burbly like Fiat does.

    The base 124 is a quiet car–I would like more drama with the exhaust, so I am waiting for the Abarth version to arrive.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      More entertaining… you wouldn’t know it to read some of the car mags. They say the Spider takes away from all the adulation they want to shower on the Miata. No, wait… that’s my interpretation of what they’re saying.

      I say the more sports cars and less Corollas, Versas, Sentras there are, the better.

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