Our Long Global Nightmare Is Over - The Fiat 500L Is Back, Baby

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
our long global nightmare is over the fiat 500l is back baby

The strike is over.

Inventory can once again ramp up.

After 21 days of concern over the future of Fiat 500L, FCA’s Serbian employees are back at work.

And, uh, it doesn’t appear as though dealer stock of 500Ls grew dangerously low in the meantime.

Facilitated by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the end of a worker walkout at the Fiat 500L assembly plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, was the result of PM Brnabic’s willingness to organize and attend negotiations between Fiat and its Serbian workforce.

FCA had made it clear the company would not negotiate with workers during the strike. Brnabic, meanwhile, attempted to lay the weight of the nation’s small economy on the plant workers: “It will be very difficult for us in the future to bring new investors when there is no certainty that workers will honour contracts between unions and employers.” The 500L is the driver of 3 percent of Serbia’s economy and accounts for 8 percent of Serbian exports.

FCA’s Serbian workforce wants to see the company hire more workers so the workload can be more easily distributed. They were also demanding a pay raise to 416 euros per month from 316 euros, the equivalent of USD $365/month.

“The government cannot guarantee what we can get,” Brnabic said after meeting with workers for two hours, “but I will insist on fulfilling as many of the strikers’ demands as possible.”

Tortured by worker unrest at suppliers, its own HR difficulties, and poor global demand for a model Fiat had originally hoped would attract 160,000 customers annually, FCA’s Serbian plant is reportedly built on a foundation of huge government subsidies. Mario Reljanovic, a professor of labor law at Belgrade’s Union University, says, “The subsidies alone are enough to bring them a profit.” But there are rumors that an FCA plant expansion in Poland could allow FCA to shutter the Serbian facility, which has never come remotely close to capitalizing on its capacity.

Stateside, Fiat is barely selling more than 100 500Ls per month, down from an already low high of more than 1,000 per month in 2014. Automotive News says Fiat entered July with a 188-day supply of 1,300 500Ls. During the first-half of 2017, the average U.S. Fiat dealer sold one 500L every three months.

As of Wednesday, July 19, 2017, workers are once again assembling 500Ls in Kragujevac, Serbia.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Join the conversation
4 of 15 comments
  • DonInYYC DonInYYC on Jul 19, 2017

    I saw one last month at the Cdn F1 race that had been converted to wheelchair accessible. No back seats, just a wheelchair lift through the back hatch. Owner said it cost him about $20k to convert. Very cool and much more "city friendly" than the usual Chrysler minivan.

  • Phila_DLJ Phila_DLJ on Jul 19, 2017

    Ah yes, the only car ever sold in the US to muster an INFINITY-day supply on dealer lots...and it's not even an Infiniti!

    • See 1 previous
    • Syncro87 Syncro87 on Jul 19, 2017

      I remember Azteks rotting on Pontiac dealer lots. Back in the 70's, the VW 412 was pretty much the same. Peugeots were similar in the 80's.

  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: https://robbreport.com/motors/cars/tesla-model-y-worlds-best-selling-vehicle-1234848318/and any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.