By on September 6, 2017

2017 Fiat 500L - Image: FCAFiat Chrysler Automobiles did not sell any Fiat 500Ls in Canada in August.

Hyperbole has gotten the best of modern society. You might say, “Those chips have no taste,” when asking your grocery-shopping spouse to stop buying those Garden Veggie Straws you so detest. But there is some taste; just not much. (Recommended: the rosemary olive oil flavor.)

“Alex Ovechkin doesn’t score goals any more,” your Capitals-loving son says. No, Ovechkin just doesn’t score as many goals as he used to.

Politicians never work together. There’s no sea ice in the Arctic. Subcompact crossovers always suck.

That’s the sort of rhetoric that minimizes the value of truth when truth is presented in an equally straightforward fashion. But in all seriousness, FCA Canada truly did not sell a single Fiat 500L in August 2017.

In fact, with alarming frequency, FCA Canada’s sales reports don’t include any Fiat 500L sales. But FCA Canada is sticking to its guns, unrelenting in the face of a horrifying popularity dearth, immutable when challenged by a Fiat lineup that needs an overhaul. FCA Canada confirmed as such to TTAC this morning: there will be a 2018 Fiat 500L.

The 500L, of course, was by no means the only issue in Canada’s Fiat boutiques last month.

All started out well for Fiat during its Canadian re-entry half a dozen years ago. In 2012, the brand’s first full year, Fiat’s 500 drove the brand’s market share up to 0.51 percent, no small feat for a single model line. In the U.S. that same year, Fiat managed only 0.30 percent market share, and by the time Fiat brand sales peaked in 2014, U.S. market share was actually down to 0.28 percent.

But Fiat’s Canadian decline occurred early, often, and harshly. By 2016, FCA Canada was selling fewer than 200 vehicles per month, 72-percent fewer than the 700+ it averaged in 2012, despite a much larger product lineup.

The Fiat 500L was the second element in that broadening lineup, but it was a misplay from the get-go. Looking at first like a potential rival for the Mini Countryman, the 500L was decidedly unattractive, unavailable with all-wheel drive, equipped with dreadful transmissions, and quickly the recipient of a reputation for poor reliability. Fewer than 2,500 were sold in its first full year of 2014.

By 2016, Canadian sales of the Fiat 500L were down 88 percent. Fiat was selling only 25 copies of the 500L per month. Could it be any worse?

Oh, it could be much, much worse.

In nearly half of FCA Canada’s sales reports so far this year — three of eight — the automaker has not reported even a single Fiat 500L sale.

Granted, we know there have been problems at the 500L’s Serbian plant. We know the 500L isn’t the freshest face in the catalogue. We know the 500X (sales of which plunged 78 percent to only eight units in August, bizarrely) is a far more desirable machine, outselling the 500L by 24-to-1 so far this year.

But an entire month goes by without a single 500L sale, three entire months go by (albeit non-consecutively) without a 500L sale, and FCA still determines that the 500L is a valuable member of the Fiat lineup?

The conundrum is North Korea-like in its level of complication: there is no good option. Killing the 500L highlights the abysmal failure that was its development. Keeping the 500L is, well… it’s a complete and total waste of brochure materials and website space.

Facing such limited options, “Fiat 500L continues to be available for 2018,” an FCA Canada spokesperson confirmed to TTAC today.

Elsewhere in Canada’s Fiat family, 500 sales tumbled 61 percent to only 34 units in August. The 124 Spider was the brand’s best seller with 36 sales, a two-unit year-over-year increase. Fiat accounted for 0.4 percent of FCA Canada’s August sales. With a 7-percent Jeep drop, a 61-percent Chrysler decline, Dodge’s 36-percent slide, a major 28-percent uptick at Ram, and 121 Alfa Romeo sales, total FCA sales were down 9 percent in August and are down 3 percent year-to-date. Canadian auto sales continued to surge toward yet another all-time record year with a 7-percent August boost.

In the U.S., Fiat sales are down 14 percent this year. Overall, FCA is off last year’s healthy pace by 8 percent. The Fiat 500L’s U.S. volume is on track to fall to roughly 1,200 units in 2017, down from 3,118 in 2016 and 12,413 units at its peak in 2014.


[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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

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23 Comments on “FCA Canada Often Reports Zero Fiat 500L Sales, Stands by Fiat 500L for the Foreseeable Future...”

  • avatar

    I can’t believe the 500L even lasted this long.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The L is a dud, and Fiat needs to stop naming its products “500”.

  • avatar

    Maybe they could use them as a BOGO incentive the way Aston Martin used the Cygnet.

  • avatar

    Fiat – its only redeeming feature is that it proves that there are indeed bad cars still out there.

  • avatar

    They killed the 200 and kept all of Fiat. WTF, truly.

  • avatar

    The Fiat 500L is such a stupid idea. “Fiat 500” means “tiny, cute, fun car.” What does “Fiat 500L” mean? The automotive equivalent of, “She’d be really hot, if she lost 2000 lbs?”

    I was recently in Rome and I happened to notice that Fiat offers a CUV (possibly even 3-row in Italian physique-friendly configuration). It’s reasonably good looking. The 500 could be used to re-establish the Fiat brand and then add other models of Fiat as appropriate. If they think they need something this size, why not just stick a cute name on their CUV and import it? I’d bet a quarter it’s on the same platform as the 500L.

    • 0 avatar

      The only CUV that Fiat offers in Italy that could be 3 row is Fremont, which is a rebadged Dodge Journey.
      The other Fiat CUV is the 500X which is sold here as well.

      • 0 avatar

        I hadn’t even heard of the 500X. Glancing at the FiatUSA web site, it sort of looks like a Subaru Crosstrek. Same idea?

        The Fiat CUV I noticed in Rome was angular, so perhaps it was a rebadged Journey. That would still make more sense than the 500L.

        I didn’t pay careful attention or get a photo because I wasn’t there to check out European cars, I was there to admire the fountains and drink good but inexpensive Italian red wine. Primary mission was accomplished.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    They’re quite popular here in LA. The 500 even more so. They’re everywhere.

  • avatar

    How does an Italian company design such a ghastly vehicle?

  • avatar

    Well, the car gets the sales it deserves.

  • avatar

    I kinda think that if any self respecting Canadian wants to buy a small toy that will fit in the back of a pickup for 30 – 40k, a turbocharged side-by-side and moutain sled will win out virtually every time.

  • avatar

    In a nation that favors small cars, FIAT 500L finds no favor.

    Honda HR-V, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza all are top sellers in Canada.
    FCA had greater success with the Dodge Dart. They were moving around 250 per month.

    Offer the Panda 4×4 in Canada and see what happens. FIAT Tipo sedan and wagon badged as Chrysler would be helpful.

  • avatar

    Zero sales. A fate this 500L vehicle truly deserves. The first time I saw it, my mind was drawn to the myth of Medusa and I could not gaze upon its visage beyond that initial glimpse. That strange feeling of horror has remained with me for four years, and it’s strong.

    Marchionne tries to keep his reputation up in Europe, and subsidizes Italy/Serbia/Poland Fiat factories with profits from North America, while making such well-regarded new treasures as Giulias that are half-as*sed underdeveloped pieces of t*rd dropping that sell in small quantities on any rational mass production scale.

    Is Fiat up-to-date with design, R&D, quality assurance, component selection? Or is it 30 years behind and just winging it while its execs swagger around as if it was the pinnacle of genius in automotive engineering? The answers are obvious. The outfit is amateur, through and through.

  • avatar

    Maybe they’re going to do what Kaiser did 60+ years ago and retitle the unsold ones as 2018s.

  • avatar

    The first time I saw one of these, it was a rental for a coworker whose car had been in an accident. His daily driver is a 10-year-old Vibe, so the 500l was actually an upgrade.

    Do they not have Enterprise in Canada to buy these things?

  • avatar

    Just goes to show that we have eminently good taste, eh?

  • avatar

    Well, if they continue to have 0 sales, of course they’ll still be available in 2018. And 2019. And…

    What else are they going to do with them other than ~not~ sell them? Scrap? Convert to US or Euro-spec?

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