By on February 6, 2018

2017 Fiat 500X Trekking

As we told you yesterday, Fiat’s sales are best imagined as a heavy stone — one that drops heavily into a pond after a brief, victorious flight. Two years of consecutive month-over-month sales declines in the United States is a grim situation for any brand, let alone one reintroduced just seven years ago. Blame America’s growing allergy to small cars, or a neglectful corporate parent — whatever the reason, something has to be done.

The purpose of this article isn’t to, um, throw stones at Fiat’s four-model lineup; it’s to give you an opportunity to save the brand. Or kill it off for a second time.

Like you’ve done in the past, you’re now reclining ever so slightly in the CEO’s chair down in Auburn Hills. You have two options at your disposal — one easy, the other complex.

Option One: Deep-six the brand in North America because it’s not worth the trouble and get on building a new two-door Ramcharger for Steph Willems. The Bronco needs a challenger.

Option Two: Take stock of the situation and, with the aim of resurrection, plot a new product course for the beleaguered brand.

While you might have very good reasons for killing off the brand north of the Rio Grande (and we hope you share them), the second option is where things get interesting. What, if anything, remains in the brand’s lineup after you’re through with it? Keep in mind that FCA’s wallet isn’t overflowing for this project, meaning your suggestions need to be in the realm of doability.

Image: Fiat

Could the segment space inhabited by the Fiat 500L — a car seen as often as Jimmy Hoffa and the Lindbergh baby — be better served by offering its platform mate, the attractive and contemporary Fiat Tipo sedan and five-door? Or are you of the same mind as Sergio Marchionne, with small cars not being worth the hassle?

Maybe Fiat, seeing as how the Italian twin to the Jeep Renegade fell on its face, deserves a larger crossover than the 500X? Why not a Fiat based on the Cherokee’s CUSW platform?

There’s also the question of whether the diminutive 500 city car, Fiat’s instantly recognizable model, is worth saving. Has its time in the sun been forever darkened?

Image: Fiat

One wildly obvious suggestion I’d have, if Fiat wants to slowly recapture lost market share (which, is this case, is the whole pie), is that it needs to do more in the segments it’s in, and add new product in the segments it isn’t. Under your watch, Fiat could bring production of the unibody Toro pickup from Brazil to Mexico, thus avoiding the chicken tax and giving Americans the small pickup they hopefully want. That’s assuming it can be built to U.S. safety standards. Maybe, if priced right, enough buyers might take to it, just like they’re taking to the Honda Ridge- er, nevermind.

Or maybe it’s best to start with a clean slate. There’s a number of shared platforms to build on. Hell, let’s throw in a little more cash and allow you to develop some of your own. A rear-drive 124 sedan, perhaps, and a pile of variants? Wouldn’t the Russians drool.

So tell us — what stable of Fiat vehicles would you like to see rise from the drawing board? And do you think someone other than yourself might buy one?

Sound off in the comments.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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185 Comments on “QOTD: What’s to Be Done With Fiat?...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Fiat can’t seem to escape it’s past, “Fix It Again Tony” is quite an albatross. It’s worse than Mazda rust or Ford electrical gremlins. I agree with the 2-door Ramcharger and I’d like to see a RWD Barracuda, even if it’s not a Plymouth. Barring some sort of EV breakthrough I can’t envision Fiat making it in N. America. Send it back to Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      ‘cuda on the Giulia platform with a forced induction Pentastar (Wildcat? – nah, GM. Tigercat???).

      Drop everything but the 500 and make a hot hatch version. A real hot hatch version.

      The Ramcharger could share the Wagoneer platform but I don’t see a 2 door selling. It would be awesome, but I don’t see it selling well and is probably why they didn’t bring the one from Mexico up.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Drop everything but the 500 and make a hot hatch version. A real hot hatch version.”

        They have ‘a real hot hatch version’. It’s called the Abarth.

        Oh, and a Ramcharger would not be a Ramcharger if it had four doors. Just as a Bronco would not be a Bronco if it has four doors.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          The Abarth is not hot. Warm maybe, but not hot. It is similar to the old one though. A decent amount of power in a small car.

          I agree a Ramcharger is 2 doors and that is why I don’t see it selling here even though it could share the Wagoneer platform to mitigate costs. Properly, it should have a removable roof as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I agree with your Ramcharger statements but until you drive an Abarth, you can’t imagine what it’s like. The thing’s got ‘scoot’ like you wouldn’t believe!

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            They are only 1/2 second quicker in the 1/4 mile than the old Mopar Turbo 1 cars from the 80s. They are 160HP in 2500-2600#. It is hot like an MX-5 Miata. I don’t doubt that they can be a hoot to drive, but they need another 40+ ponies to be set apart from the pack. The entry level should be the 160hp engine.

        • 0 avatar
          BigOldChryslers

          The Wrangler and Charger are supposed to be two-doors as well, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping FCA from selling lots of them with 4 doors.

          If they made a fullsize SUV off the RAM1500 pickup chassis, my guess is that it will only come with 4 doors because that’s what sells. IMO, they should still call it the Ramcharger.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            This is what they used to sell south of the border. They could do four doors and still look like a two door. If they go four door though the Jeep nameplate will equal much higher profits and would come first.

            http://blog.consumerguide.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/10/Screen-Shot-2016-10-14-at-10.48.57-AM-1024×528.png

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Nope. A 4-door Ram SUV should not be called “Ramcharger”. Ramcharger was a dedicated off-road truck with some on-road manners. You don’t see the Suburban advertised as an off-road SUV.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    >>the Fiat 500L — a car seen as often as Jimmy Hoffa and the Lindbergh baby

    Odd coincidence – I saw this article, looked out of my office window and saw a 500L parked outside.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The answer to your query is all too easy. Fiat should be killed off, again. Followed by an apology from Sergio for stuffing this mess down the dealers throats. Many of who have spent a lot of money on buildings and what not.

    What does Fiat actually offer that is better than what can be found anywhere else? Nothing.
    Tell me about Fiat’s CUV offerings….I guess the 500L? Not sure, as it is too hideous for me to even look at.

    There are zero logical reasons for FCA to invest in this brand for the US market when the dollars could be spent on the Jeep brand which actually has a favorable brand image. Shore up the brand that delivers the cash and jettison the boat anchor.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The 500L is one of those Pontiac Aztec/Ford Flex-type vehicles – the 3 people I know who have them love them. I think the tranny upgrade last year certainly helped with drivability.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Feeble Italian Attempt at Transportation.
    Restyle the 124 Spider as an inexpensive Alfa Romeo – maybe a retro Duetto. The rest of Fiat can leave the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      This comment exemplifies Fiat’s biggest problem: perception. People with absolutely no first-hand experience with the cars want to shut it down just because they THINK it’s a bad car.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        The flaw in your argument is that being an apt student of history should not be perceived as a fault. They THINK Fiats are bad cars because there’s ample evidence of several decades of Fiats BEING bad cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          A five-decade-old reputation is not, “several decades of Fiats BEING bad cars.” It’s an obsolete reputation that is NOT supported by the later generations. Whether you appreciate it or not, the UK’s Top Gear has more than once over the last 20 years demonstrated Fiat’s capabilities and never once complained about its reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Doesn’t matter what the Top Gear people say. Fiat had a DEPLORABLE rep in this country. The current vehicles are obviously an improvement, but hey’re still not as reliable as the competition.

            Now, if their stuff was great to drive, maybe people would put up with less-than-average reliability. But Fiats are merely competent.

            Like I said…they needed to knock it out of the park with the new stuff, and they didn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Doesn’t matter what the Top Gear people say. Fiat had a DEPLORABLE rep in this country.”

            And again you emphasize my point. Fiat has not been IN this country for forty years; so you’re relying on an obsolete reputation to make buying decisions on a modern vehicle. And you literally don’t know its reliability because there isn’t a large enough owner base to give any kind of statistically-valid measurement.

            And clearly you haven’t driven a Fiat yourself, or you wouldn’t be saying, “merely competent.”

          • 0 avatar
            Rob Cupples

            Give it a break. Consumer Reports gives most of their models a 1/5 on Reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged Miata Man

            “A five-decade-old reputation is not, “several decades of Fiats BEING bad cars.”

            Oh kiddo… you’re hopeless. Does five not equal “several?” Do you think that reputation simply came into being on its own?

          • 0 avatar
            overdale

            Unfortunately Fiat’s problems are not just in North America, they have the same issues in the UK and Europe too by putting all their eggs in one basket with the ageing 500 and bigger models with the same face. Once the king of small cars, they have inexplicably let the once-bestselling Punto hatchback wither on the vine. The Tipo is a budget car which sells poorly and only on its low made-in-Turkey price. The Freemont, a rebadged Dodge Journey, flopped. That leaves the little Panda, one of the few proper European small cars left, but that’s way too tiny for North America.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            TTAC readership seems be mostly Old Farts, so they remember the five-decade-old reputation as if it were yesterday. Even if they can’t remember yesterday….

            Nobody in NA who’s under 50 has any recollection or association of Fiat with anything at all, unless they’ve travelled to Europe and seen them on the road. And cared enough about cars to even notice the name.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Nobody in NA who’s under 50 has any recollection or association of Fiat with anything at all, unless they’ve travelled to Europe and seen them on the road. And cared enough about cars to even notice the name.”

            They remember their fathers’ words. Even the suggestion of Fiat coming back had almost all those ‘old farts’ reiterating how bad those Fiats were and honestly, I was one of them; I remember how everyone I knew who owned one either loved it or hated it. Hell, I worked with an ‘old fart’ engineer who drove an X1/9 as his daily driver and how he was constantly working to keep it running (and complaining how people in big cars expected him to be able to stop on a dime in a lightweight car on drum brakes.) Today’s Fiats are not yesterday’s Fiats and Americans need to get that fact knocked into their thick skulls.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Mazdaz often melt in regions that use salt to mitigate icy conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’re right, Vulpine, but the problem is that the perception existed for a reason, and for FCA to overcome that perception, they had to really hit it out of the park with the “new” Fiat. They didn’t.

        Clearly the new products are radically better than the old ones, but they aren’t great.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          A Fiat 500 could run circles around just about anything you could put up against it that is NOT a dedicated sports vehicle. The Abarth version could give even those a run for their money…short of an all-out track vehicle. They’re quick and lively, even if they aren’t the fastest vehicles on the road.

          Their reliability is at least as good as most other cars today and better than some, despite the CR and JDP reviews. FOR THE MONEY, they’re among the best available at half the price of its closest competitor in its class, the Mini, which is also a very niche and relatively slow-selling vehicle. Tell me, how many Minis were purchased last year? Yes, I know it will be more than the number of Fiats…but by how much? Remember, Mini just drastically cut their own lineup due to poor sales.

          Comparing Fiat to every other brand in the states when it only competes with ONE is ridiculous.

          • 0 avatar

            “Their reliability is at least as good as most other cars today and better than some, despite the CR and JDP reviews.”

            See, you’re arguing the opposite of what the *published reliability information* says. And 9.5/10 consumers are gonna take the word of CR over “random internet fox.”

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Their reviews are based on public response and there are too few public responses to give any statistically-valid bases to those reports.

          • 0 avatar
            pdq

            Did you see Jimmy Hoffa or a baby sitting in it?

          • 0 avatar
            pdq

            My only experience in one of the new Fiats was driving in a 500 from LA to Vegas and back. Around town it’s a competent car, kinda cute. At highway speeds it’s a friggin’ buzz-box! I thought I’d NEVER get that buzzing noise out of my ears!

            I really like the looks of the 124, but I can’t get in and out of it very easily.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          I respect Vulpine’s perceptive take more than any others here, but the x1/9 has 4 wheel disc brakes from day 1, FFS.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Go to the German TUV reliability website and you’ll find that the poor little Fiat 500 lurks near the bottom of the list for every year that’s rated. See the perception become reality in the light of evidence.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No people want to shut it down because it doesn’t sell enough to be profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Restyle the 124 Spider as an inexpensive Alfa Romeo”

      It is very annoying that there is no Chrysler or Alfa convertible right now (the 4C Spider is more of a targa roof).

  • avatar
    seth1065

    What FIAT really needs is $4.00 gas in the USA, they make small cars and right now small cars are out, so if they want to stay until that time comes they need to survive and being the uncapr company, bring on the funky pickup truck shown above, toss on a hell of a warranty on the cars, buy a 500 collage grad and we Fiat will pay $1,000 towards your student loans, think out of the box, the 124 vert was a decent idea but with the near twin Mazda in town not much of a seller, I know they do not have this issue in other parts of the world. Shrink their footprint to mostly city areas and the near outskirts where parking is tight and their cars fit in tight parking spots, I would love an updated x19 but sports cars really do not sell so make the 500l or 500 X the official delivery car for IKEA show how much you can pack into it, the point is they gotta think out size the box, they do not need the TTAC buyer as much as they need young buyers looking for their first cheap new car who have no idea what FIAT was, every dealership gives away one trip for 2 to Italy once a year , your odds may be pretty good. The folks I know who own a 500 like them, they gotta do a better job marketing them an hope gas goes up.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    The last “Hail Mary”… Fiat should be offered at Dodge dealerships to increase the selling footprint. Alfa Romeo should be offered at Chrysler dealerships.
    Close the existing Fiat dealerships or make them a Dodge dealership if they are not located too close to another Dodge dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      +1 just sell them as Dodge’s. Like I said in the other article I can’t believe they are wasting money with a building that says “Fiat” on it when I can get the same vehicle with a different badge down the street at my local Jeep or Mazda dealer. This makes NO sense. The only original offering is the original 500. Why can’t this be the new Neon? I like having lots of choices in vehicles (especially hot hatches) but why create a whole new “brand” around it?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The separation is essential. The problem is, they’re all run by existing CJDR franchisees, not independent ones.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        The Fiat 500 can not be a Dodge neon because the Dodge neon was a 5-seat over-sized c-segment car that people liked– and purchased.

        Something like 400,000 neons found homes in 1994-1995. Fiat can’t do that without affixing a Jeep name to the front of the dang thing.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          The Neon fell apart. I was in the market for a commuter car in ‘97, looked at a few at a dealer, cheap, shoddy plastic interior, so I bought a ‘97 Escort instead. Much more car for the money.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “There’s also the question of whether the diminutive 500 city car, Fiat’s instantly recognizable model, is worth saving.”

    Concentrate on words “city car”. But there are many cities, which don’t have Fiat dealer nearby. Many are located where Dodge/Jeep dealers are and that is in open suburbs, etc. People who live in the city keep in mind, how they going to service the car. Nobody wants to drive 20mi outside the city for it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s a good observation. None of the Fiat dealers in my area are in the central city – they’re all in the outlying suburbs, where small cars aren’t really wanted. Shame, because in the city of Denver, there are probably scads of trendy-millenial types who would be interested in a funky “city” car.

  • avatar
    geee

    Ohhhh, a Fiat Ridgeline! I’ve always wanted one of them!

  • avatar
    TR4

    How about an updated version of the S76?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_S76_Record

    At 28 liters, it should be big enough even for Americans. With 290 hp @ 1900 rpm, that works out to 802 lb-ft of torque!

  • avatar
    incautious

    Fugly vehicles with spotty reliability. Fiat must take a page out of the Hyundai/KIA book. 10year/100,000 mile warranty and a total redesign of its lineup, ie the 2011 sonata/optima makeover. Audi was able to rebuild its brand after the Audi 5000 debacle, so it’s not impossible. It’s time for FCA to spend money on product development.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      That’s what I was looking for before typing it myself. Their reliability and quality is a joke. The only way to get around that is a looooong warranty, but of course if they don’t back it up with an improved build process, it’s worthless.

      Nothing else will get leery buyers to take a chance.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Their reliability and quality is a joke.”

        Laughing Out Loud. What do YOU know about their reliability, Scarecrow? And don’t tell me you’ve repaired them; I won’t believe you without documentation.

        The newer Fiats, since they returned to the States, are surprisingly good cars. They may not be ‘pretty’, but then, they were never meant to be ‘pretty’. They are remarkably functional as well as fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          ScarecrowRepair

          Individual experience is just anecdotes. For real data, you need lots of it, and you may think Consumer Reports records are a joke, but they are more useful than your personal experience, or your hinted-at summaries of others’ experiences.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Mitsubishi has been doing the 10 year warranty for years in Canada and it still doesn’t work if the product isn’t there

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      My Abarth has been the lowest cost to run and maintain of any new car I’ve ever purchased. So there’s that.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Open a Vulpine cloning facility.

    Even then, the biggest Fiat fans on TTAC don’t seem interested in keeping the new vehicles for more than 3 years.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Summary: Roll the 500 Abarth and 124 into the SRT section of the dealerships. Maybe put crosshairs on the 124 grille and call it the Dodge Demon.

    It’s tough; in a world of crossovers, the 500X lines up exactly with what the public wants, and yet it doesn’t sell. There’s no margin in small cars, no buyers for them anyway, and I don’t think the 500’s design language would translate to anything Highlander-sized. Fiat can’t have a butch and aggressive image because they’ve always been cheap and cheerful, small, nimble cars. I genuinely believe their small pickups would be DOA here too. The company cannot survive on selling 500 Abarths and 124s, as much as I’d love for more people to have Abarths.

    If the market hadn’t changed to lifted hatchbacks and hinged-door minivans, I’d argue that a dealer network that truly cares about customer service and righting wrongs could save the brand. With representatives that make you feel as happy as driving your 500 does, because they’re pretty solidly-built cars and a cheap way to have something with Italian character, it could create return or conquest business. That, or $4/gal gas.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Maybe put crosshairs on the 124 grille and call it the Dodge Demon.”

      Name’s taken. Perhaps succubus will do?

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Somehow I completely forgot about the Challenger as I remembered the Miata-sized concept car. Maybe a Dodge Tomcat? Tomahawk? Or the Imp? Gremlin was already used before.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          I’d love to see a Miata sized vehicle, done right of course, from FCA and GM.

          GM can start with a new Fiero using the V6 from the Camaro. And don’t half ass it like the kappa twins.

          EDIT: Forget, FCA has one, the 124. I would like to see what a Dodge version would bring to the table.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Gremlin belonged to AMC, which is fully enveloped in the FCA fold through Chrysler. They could bring in a Gremlin, but honestly it needs to be ugly to fit the name. Pacer would work, as would Hornet, on the other hand.

          In fact, that’s an idea in itself. Bring in the Fiat lineup with AMC names. You could probably even bring back the Rambler badge without too much trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Copperhead is what you’re thinking of. That was a Dodge roadster concept from this century.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Dodge could use another demonic name from their past: Cerberus

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You just pointed out one of their larger problems, IBx1, the dealerships don’t WANT to sell Fiats and as a result do nearly everything possible to steer Fiat customers to their other brands and models. You certainly don’t see FCA’s new JEEP lineup just sitting on the lots, now do you? Nearly that whole lineup is now under FCA designs, with only the Grand Cherokee the holdout to the original Daimler design once the JK Wranglers get shut down. You don’t read about all that many problems with the Cherokee, new Compass or Renegade, now do you?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        That is more complete BS, the dealers that spent all the money creating a Fiat “Studio” certainly want a return on that investment. Plus if someone comes in looking at the 500 chances are pretty slim you will flip them into a Ram, Charger, 300, or Wrangler.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “That is more complete BS, the dealers that spent all the money creating a Fiat “Studio” certainly want a return on that investment.”

          Return on investment… That’s why they ship ALL of their repairs to the CJDR dealership down the road, right? That’s why the FMA dealerships need to be run by non-CJDR franchises.

          “Plus if someone comes in looking at the 500 chances are pretty slim you will flip them into a Ram, Charger, 300, or Wrangler.”
          —- My wife got ‘flipped’ pretty easily. We were on our way to a Fiat dealership and because of our experience WITH that dealership’s franchisee, she had me turn in to a more local CJDR dealership we already knew and liked.

          She bought a Renegade in place of the 500X she wanted.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            How is a Renegade a Ram, Charger, 300 or Wrangler????

            Yes many of the Fiat Studios are just that a small showroom with the service at the same place as the rest of the brands under the umbrella, in hopes of getting some return on investment.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude, in my case the Fiat studio is a full mile down the highway from the CJDR dealership, yet they still transport ALL service to that CJDR location rather than manning the reasonably spacious garage attached to the showroom.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Oh boy a full mile, how will you survive. Just because they used an old building they had from before the consolidation of CDJR under one roof does not mean that it makes sense to heat and light a shop for such a small volume of cars that as you claim are prefect and never need any warranty service.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    There’s only one thing they could do that would fix their reputation for unreliability.

    Fiat must offer a 15 year / 225,000 mile fully-transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty.

    Buyers think a Honda, Toyota, or Chevy will last that long, and that other cars involve taking on a durability risk. Fiat has to take on that risk and make their customers’ problems their problems.

    In the last year I had the Abarth I broke a shifter cable, had a door latch shatter and leave me unable to close it, and suffered a big-end failure on my way to return it at the end of the lease.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    #1: Stop calling every offering “500”. Cute names like “Tipo”, “Brava”, and “Panda” are good.

    #2: Kill off the 500L immediately.

    #3: Hit ’em where they ain’t. Don’t try to compete in saturated market spaces. The best of the 500 series is the electric 500e; maybe they should build a small electric pickup, but Sergio doesn’t want to lose money on such ventures (can’t blame him).

    #4: They should drop an Alfa V6 into a hot sedan, like the Fiat Dino of the past.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If I were in charge of this decision, the answer to what to do with Fiat in the US could be summed up by the tried and true statement.
    Kill it with fire!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, you did one thing right; you showed a nice, relatively compact pickup truck. Granted, that’s the larger of their two but it’s a step in the right direction. I think also the Strada pickup–a true compact–would be a better choice for all things Fiat.

    I do agree that making everything look like a Fiat 500 is a mistake; the 500L and 500X are both good vehicles (despite reviewers) but they suffer from looking like their smallest sibling. The Panda could easily replace both of them and look a lot better doing so.

  • avatar

    I don’t think it’s worth the trouble, I’d kill Fiat in the US.

    -Brand recognition and value is poor.
    -Dealers aren’t good and are more profitable as Jeep franchises.
    -The product is old.
    -Reliability is sub-par.
    -Anything Fiat can do (except 124) Jeep can do better. And in that case, swap the 124 over to an Alfa or something (the other money pit).

    Globally Fiat is fine selling small things abroad. They don’t have any large cars, or large engines, or anything the North American consumer needs. Just like Mitsubishi, Fiat does not need to be here. Use the platforms as you are now, for some mediocre CUVs by Jeep which middling consumers eat up.

    It was a fun little experiment, but times have changed (though the product hasn’t). End it.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      How bad is Fiat reliability overall. I know they come in close to the bottom at Consumer Reports, but it’s been said that the least reliable car today, is more reliable than the most reliable car from 12 years ago( or something to that effect).

      Also, the reliability delta has shrunken considerably in the past twenty years. If one percent of Toyotas, for whatever reason are deemed unreliable, and three percent of Fiats are labeled the same, that’s a 200% increase, but it’s still just two percent of all Fiat vehicles.

      What does that look like for the normal, everyday owner?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “What does that look like for the normal, everyday owner?”

        A perception problem, not a real problem.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        Now here’s a man familiar with statistical analysis. It’s all about “compared to what”. Driveline failures or overheating/blown headgaskets or “I just can’t seem to get Bluetooth to synch, woe is me”.

        So-called informed car guy pansies…

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      This is the best option. There is no point in having Fiat here. Sell all their wares as Jeep or Alpha. Well, mostly Jeep. If a Fiat isn’t a CUV, it probably isn’t worth selling in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “They don’t have any large cars, or large engines, or anything the North American consumer needs.”

      Needs? Or wants? Americans certainly don’t NEED those Road Whale™ vehicles which are among the most popular models, they just want ’em because they infer status upon their owners. Believe me, they’re not status symbols in my eye, they’re dangerous, oversized, imposters.

      • 0 avatar

        Wants = needs when it comes to consumer goods. No, America doesn’t “need” large cars, but that’s what they buy.

        And Fiat doesn’t have any.

        “Your eye” is quite skewed from the vast majority of Americans, from everything I’ve seen here.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’m an American, Corey; American from birth. I’ve NEVER liked ‘big’, even though I’ve owned them. Yes, I understand the feeling some ‘big’ vehicles offer; it’s a sense of power over the smaller ones. It’s a false impression because it doesn’t make you any better of a driver and makes every maneuver an exaggeration.

          Fiat has never been about big and never will be. Through their other brands they can offer whatever size a person may need. That’s the point with having multiple marques and a problem many OEMs have battled before by duplicating their lineup in every marque. GM still has that problem, despite killing off two of its more popular brands in favor of the ‘image’ the remaining brands carried.

          So we need to keep Fiat but Fiat needs to offer variety. Rather than making everything look like a 500, they need to bring in the Punto and Panda. Market the Alfas at the Fiat studios and what the heck, market the Maserati there too. Make it a unified Italian studio rather than spreading those brands out into CJD dealerships that don’t want them.

          • 0 avatar

            “It’s a false impression because it doesn’t make you any better of a driver and makes every maneuver an exaggeration.”

            Gotta learn that old car control.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Handbrake turn, my friend. Something you can’t quite do in modern pickups. And believe me, I’m no fan of taking up four lanes to do a U-turn when an old Ranger can do it in two… without a handbrake maneuver.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          It’s compensation for what they don’t have. That why you see so many large barges on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        You want to see a picture of my daughter in a car seat in a Fiat 500? I need a larger car than that.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          That’s you, not me or my wife. That’s not the single young adult that has cost on their minds more than space. That’s not the empty-nesters who simply no longer NEED that much space. That’s not the middle-age blues person who needs something to make them feel young and alive again. There are a LOT of people who could be potential customers for the Fiat lineup. But that lineup needs to have variety. Making them all look like the 500 is, to me, a major mistake.

          Oh, did you TRY putting that child carrier into a 500x? The 500 itself might be too small for you, but if you’re only going to have two kids, the 500X might be a more ideal size and still give you the ability to carry a typical shopping trip or even a modest vacation trip with the family. And you have to admit, it’s far less likely to be stolen or stripped for parts, isn’t it?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            My C-Max is as small as I would ever go. The design also makes it seem larger than it is. My parents have a 500X sized vehicle, but they also own a midsized sedan.

            I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than a compact car to anyone unless they had to park on the street in a city. Even then, something like an Escape is less than two feet longer than an EcoSport.

            The reality is that compact crossovers are the perfect size for most people and that is why they sell. The Escape, CR-V, Rav4, Equinox, etc are all SO MUCH better than the smaller CUVs their brands sell. The gas mileage penalty is almost nonexistent, and the price difference is relatively insignificant. 100 time out of 100 I would tell someone to buy a lower trim Equinox over a mid to high trim Trax.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “My C-Max is as small as I would ever go.”
            —- And the C-Max is bigger than I want without an open bed.

            Get my point?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Yeah. I know. And you can buy whatever small vehicle you want. It ain’t gonna bother me. Your point was, “Americans certainly don’t NEED those Road Whale™ vehicles which are among the most popular models.”

            As someone who has an eighteen foot long, 5000 pound vehicle, my lifestyle needs that vehicle. I fill that vehicle full of stuff on a regular basis and drive 400 miles in a weekend with all that stuff. I do this 20-30 times a year. I would buy a bigger vehicle if it would fit in my garage.

            I’m not saying all people need such a vehicle, but damnit, its way nicer than stuffing a subcompact CUV full of stuff and towing a utility trailer. It is safer too.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Hmmm… I wonder if you caught my ‘open bed’ statement. Yes, modern pickups are Road Whales™ too, with even the mid-sizers much bigger than I want. I’m looking for something the size of the Fiat Toro (not Fullback) or the even smaller Strada pickup seen in South America and Mexico.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          What next… Polaroids of your wife?

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      FIAT Reliability: We have ratings in this country that aren’t great on FIAT- but I think it suffers HEAVILY from confirmation bias.

      When you look at Euro reliability reports, FIAT isn’t bad at all. They have 3 cars rated in the ‘good’ category and top 100 from the last report I saw. There’s definitely some confirmation bias going on with these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Take the 124, give it a lift and put a Jeep grill on it for a roadable dune runner. The Miata of off road cars.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    I agree. Stop calling everything 500.
    Fix all the glaring issues with the current lineup and make them much more reliable. Define each vehicle so that they make sense… the Original 500 can still sell if the market demands it… if not, drop it. The L and the X are too similar… change the L into a micro mini van / bus and update its styling and feature content to be more competitive. Rebrand the and redefine the X.
    Introduce a small pickup to compete with the Ridgeline, and consider a larger SUV. If Fiat is going to survive in this market, they need to stop creating purse dog cars, or designer outfits…Leave that to Mini.

    • 0 avatar

      “Fix all the glaring issues with the current lineup and make them much more reliable.”

      That’s such a huge ask, and something FCA can’t afford. Increasing reliability would have to happen at a basic level for all their vehicles, since they’re using imports for the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Fix all the glaring issues with the current lineup and make them much more reliable.”

      WHAT ‘glaring issues’? Fiats are remarkably reliable, whether you want to believe that or not. Certainly no worse than any other car and better than many, despite JDPower and Consumer Reports.

      • 0 avatar
        Shane Rimmer

        Vulpine, if this is a perception issue, then how do you go about fixing it? If JD Power and Consumer Reports rate Fiat vehicles as poor, then that’s what people will believe. How do you convince people those ratings are wrong or that they shouldn’t worry about them when forking over large sums of money?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The fact is that CR and JDP DON’T rate the Fiat as “poor”; they’ve clearly stated that every car they test is very similar and that they’ve had to rate on a reverse curve because of it. The biggest problem is that their sampling of Fiats is far, far smaller than any other brand so they legitimately cannot get statistically-valid numbers.

          Worse, you asked about how to fix the perception but the typical ‘pump ’em out to the rental agencies’ didn’t work. Why? Because the rental agencies priced ’em way up into the stratosphere…$200/day as a rental compared to a Ford Focus at $39/day or less. Why?

          No, the cars need to be made more visible. They’re already priced ridiculously low so it’s not like they can use the 500 as a loss leader; they need to actually get them out into the public view on the roads, either as fleet delivery cars or through major publicity events. A docu-mercial of a fleet of 500s doing the Tail of the Dragon would be neat. Believe it or not, there are several such rallies every year, often concurrent with bikers doing the same ride. How about a string of 500s racing down Lombard street in San Francisco? But these things need to happen in every city or town and they need to be very, VERY obvious. But that costs money and FCA, despite its highest ever profits, is not made of money.

          My best recommendation has already been made. Separate the Italian brands entirely from the American brands. Do NOT let an CDJR franchise holder take on a Fiat/Alfa/Maserati dealership. We need a completely different class of dealerships for the Italian brands–a class that believes in them and wants to sell them, rather than being a tag-along to the more visible American-branded FCA models.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        CR can’t even be trusted to recommend a good appliance and i’m going to trust them on cars? They’ve never aligned with my ownership experience and telling me Toyotas are reliable is something I already know.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    One good, new model will turn it around. Buyers will flock to it. Unfortunately, Fiat-Chrysler has been unable to produce a good new model. Their attempts have crashed and burned, with the exception of their new minivan.

    A previous commenter said to introduce a new segment buster. I know F-C has them; they are the one of the most international auto producers. A new mini truck, perhaps? That’s a market untapped.

    And, it should be introduced as a RAM, not pushed out as a FIAT. Most American buyers trust RAM (or Dodge, as they were before), not FIAT.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Unfortunately, Fiat-Chrysler has been unable to produce a good new model. ”

      False statement; so far FCA has produced no fewer than four “good new models,” starting with the Cherokee and continuing through the Renegade, Compass and now the new Wrangler. They’ve also done well with the Ram lineup, having finally worked past the damage Daimler did to them and they’ve upped the ante in the 300/Charger and the Challenger/Demon with new engines and suspension tunes. Just because not all changes are visible doesn’t mean they haven’t improved them. Those four Jeeps are clearly evidence of “good new models.”

      The 500L and 500X are good models, even if not popular. I’ve already described what their biggest drawback is: Perception, not capability.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    There are too many brands and models available in the US market as is. Fools rushed in, and Fiat was definitely one of them. I feel for all the workers tied to the brand, but bad business is bad business. They have to close up the shop and move on.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I know what you’re saying but I’d like to see more variety in our market. Both four and two wheeled.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Don’t forget Renault/Peugeot are coming soon. They had a reputation like Fiat’s when they were here 50 years ago. Will they suffer the same perceptual problems Fiat is realizing? Or will their connection to Mitsubishi/Nissan give them a stronger launch?

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    They need more crossovers that are not the 500X or 500L.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Kill it, and kill Chrysler while you’re at it. Neither brand has any relevance in the marketplace anymore. Sell Maserati to Ferrari. Transfer the Pacifica to Dodge to be the new Caravan. Build out Dodge’s lineup with a selection of on road crossovers and a couple sedans.

    FCA needs to be paired down to Ram, Dodge, Jeep, Alfa Romeo. All 4 brands share similar brand DNA and would compliment each other. It doesn’t take much to see a Dodge Charger R/T customer making the step up to an Alfa Romeo Guilia.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    FCA should make all their vehicles on global platforms that can meet any safety/emission standards and therefore be relatively easily sold anywhere in the world as demand allows. The Fiat brand should only be used on cheap and cheerful small cars – nothing bigger than the 500x or more expensive than the 124 Spider. No need to make the Fiat brand a full-line, but combine the small Fiat lineup with larger pricier vehicles with an Alfa or Chrysler or Dodge or RAM badge to create a full-line up and give dealers something competitive and profitable to sell whether gas is $2 or $10 per gallon.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I don’t see much of a way forward for this brand, but if you want an idea for a hail Mary try, I’d say they need to focus on the people who will actually buy them. I assume this group is trendy urban-dwelling millenial types. Here’s how that plays out.

    1) Put Fiat dealers in the areas where the trendy urban millenials actually live. Here in Denver, the only Fiat dealers are way out in the ‘burbs, and in those areas, no one wants funky little city cars. Sell them in densely populated urban areas, and make the stores “boutique.”

    2) Introduce a ridesharing service. If you’re selling city cars, why not?

    3) “Abarth” everything.

    Try that and see what happens, I suppose. But I think the brand’s dead, for all intents and purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I agree about putting dealers near the customers, but no one is going to take the risk of developing premium urban real estate into a low volume car dealer.

      Though it would be cool to walk through the trendy neighborhood and see a Fiat dealership with 15 brightly colored cars on the lot, and a promise to custom order whatever configuration a customer wants (which is anathema to how US dealers work).

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      I think you are correct about having the dealers in urban areas; also maybe seniors areas, college towns.
      The one question that really needs to be answered is, how many cars need to be sold here to make a profit? If FIAT is not losing money, and I didn’t read in the story that they were, then there may not really be a problem. Since FIAT sells cars in other markets, maybe they are OK just squeeking by here.

  • avatar
    NN

    They should combine Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Fiat dealers into one (and, while they’re at it use the same locations for Ferrari in the right markets), similar to the way Mini was originally found at BMW dealers. That way Fiat isn’t trying to stand on their own. Trade on their Italian-ness, and make the dealer experience upscale–with Illy coffee and sharply dressed employees.

    The 500L and X seem to be weak offerings. Federalize the next Punto (a Golf competitor) and Panda, and double down on being an Italian small car specialist for mostly urban locations and europhiles.

    • 0 avatar
      earthwateruser

      Rollling Fiat into Alfa and Maserati dealers makes a lot of sense. It provides those dealers with an entry level vehicle with Italian flavor that generates showroom traffic. It also offers a better dealership experience for Fiat owners that might aspire to a more expensive Italian automobile with greater performance.

      But I think the Fiat model line needs some trimming. Ditch the 500L and 500X and offer the 500 only in cushy Lounge and sporty Abarth trims. Keep the 124 as a bridge between Fiat and Alfa and introduce that Fiat trucklet in the U.S. A sub-Giulia rwd/awd Fiat sedan/coupe/hatchback/wagon could round out the Fiat line. Essentially, position Fiat line as an entry to Alfa and give Alfa and Maserati owners a place to pick up low cost cars as needed.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        All of the Fiat stores in my area are under the same roof as Alfa or Alfa/Maserati dealerships.

        And I think that’s a problem. No one shops for Fiats to begin with, and someone who’s in the market to drop anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 on a luxury car wants to look at some silly Fiat across the showroom floor.

        Fiat needs to chase its’ own buyers.

  • avatar
    scrappy17

    Bring in the FIAT Panda.. Right now there are no subcompacts with AWD or 4wd.
    Make the 4wd as standard kit, and make it switchable between FWD and 4WD as needed to keep the economy levels up. With Subaru going mainstream, a niche exists for funky small 4wd in places with actual snow.
    This alone will not save the brand, but would be a step in the right direction.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    I sold my 2004 MINI Cooper S to buy a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. Loved the car but the seats were so uncomfortable I sold it to buy and X last year. I barely got $10k for a car that had only 30k miles on it and felt lucky.

    The X has been a nice car, comfy, stylish but the trans sucks and it has a rough idle. My Chrysler dealership has tried hard to fix these things and it is somewhat better after the last visit. I bought my 2016 Trekking Plus for $23k, out the door tax and license. Crazy cheap.

    How to fix the brand…. DROP the “L”, bring the Abarth 695 over, make an Abarth “X”, give the USA all the options Europe gets like the cool colour combos and fix how they handle dealerships and the bad dealerships I hear about on my Fiat Facebook pages. I know 5 different techs who work for the dealerships and they say how FCA handles payments for repairs, warranty work sucks.

    Oh and do a corporate event like the MINI Takes The States type thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      How many times have you re-flashed the tranny on that X? Why?

      Why do I ask? Because that’s the same tranny as in my Renegade and I have literally no complaints about it. I thought it lagged too much when I first bought it, but with using Manual mode a few times and basically forcing shifts at certain speeds and locations, it began to learn my driving style and now automatically shifts almost exactly when I would have manually shifted. Reflashing it forces it back to default, starting the learning process all over again. It’s pre-programmed for best economy and that obviously makes it feel laggy. Teach it to drive the way you like to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      ronbo101

      We have a 2017 500X, Scuzimi, and the idle vibration isn’t too bad= it’s still there but certainly tolerable, and much better than what you experience in your typical 2016. Fiat went with new design motor mounts that tame a lot of that idle shake, and (apparently) make it ride a little nicer as well, as reported by a few who have had the new mounts retrofitted. Fiat will change out your mounts free of charge if you ask for it, though many dealers seem to be ignorant of this program. It sounds like you may have had this done already though.

      I’m reasonably satisfied with the shift program, which I understand is significantly better than any of the iterations that made it into the 2016 models. It’s not perfect, and I’m particularly not keen on the manu-matic mode when the “mood selector” is in auto. But for every day driving it’s fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Funny, my old boss had a 2008 Cooper S and that thing shook so bad at idle I thought it was missing a piston. I wonder sometimes if a bad one just gets out there.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Improve upon and expand the lineup. Make the 500 a tad larger to a Mini size. Offer a giardinetta wagon version. Offer AWD on the 500L. Build a 124 Spider coupe.
    Subaru kind of languished for years but built their quirky brand. Fiat can find their niche.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      They will not find their niche by selling cars 30 miles away from city centers. For example, I have Fiat dealer 3 miles from home. I live in 500-house development. I see people have few Miatas, 2xMini 4 door, 1 Mini 2door, 2xCountryman, 1 VW Beetle. But no Fiats.
      Many cities don’t have Fiat dealers close by. Fiat doesn’t sell well in suburbs and open country because it is not type of car people there are buying. And it doesn’t sell in city because there is no dealer nearby. Wrong product, wrong place.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        In NYC there is a Fiat studio in Manhattan on 11th ave plus other dealers in the outer boroughs. You can’t more urban than that. It’s probably why you see a fair number of 500’s here since they make a decent City car.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          NYC is just one city. But there are none in Philly, Wilmington, Baltimore, and many other cities. Yea, I see a number of 500 disappearing. This is what this article is about – what to do to keep Fiat alive! Wake up, dude!

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        You see many Fiats in the Bay Area and SoCal and I would expect other major metros as well.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The worst enemy of the 500X is right across the aisle, and it’s called the Jeep Renegade. For give-or-take the same money, most Americans would prefer the “iconic” Jeep grille, even if they’re the same vehicle underneath.

    Can’t say the last time I saw a 500L without a rental-car barcode on it.

    The 500 hatch is essentially unchanged since it’s introduction 6 years ago. For the few folks who still want one, why not buy a 3-year-old model for half price or less?

    I can’t speak to the 124, but its sales volume really doesn’t amount to much, anyhow.

    FIAT can die.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    The problem with killing if fiat is that not too long ago it was Fiat that bailed out Chrysler. Sales in Europe were strong, sales in another America were weak. Who’s to say the US division won’t struggle again at some point. FCA therefore needs a partner, PSA is the most logical choice as Fiat could share lots of components.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    Since the Chrysler 300 has already been badge-engineered into the Lancia Thema, why not build a full-size crossover on that chassis for FIAT? Sure, the platform is old, but the bugs have been worked out (at least to FIAT’s standards) and it’s paid for. Call it the FIAT Orca. They could even Abarth-ify it later with one of the big V8s.

    I was going to suggest reviving and FIAT-ifying the JEEP Commander but FIAT really doesn’t need all that off-road prowess; doesn’t really fit the brand.

    What about putting a small Alfa sedan (to complete with the upcoming A-Class Mercedes) on the Miata chassis that they’ve already licensed? That doesn’t really help FIAT, though…

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    The simple answer is: kill off FIAT in the US. The 500 is a niche product that could be sold in Alfa stores or even in the corner of Jeep stores…the 500x is cute but I’ve seen about 3 of them on the road so far. I have not seen a 124 yet, in the wild, and regret it every time I see a 500L…that thing is just awful.

    I’m not convinced that FCA wouldn’t be best served by dumping everything but Ram and Jeep in the US market…if they couldn’t sell small and midsize cars branded as Dodge and Chrysler they surely couldn’t sell many badged as FIAT.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    This is coming from a Fiat owner, this brand isn’t worth saving.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Depends on how much wiggle room there is in pricing.

    If you can make them cheap and cheerful and still make a profit, keep selling the 500 and 500X, drop prices a bit, and bring over the Tipo and possibly a CUV one size level above the 500X (Compass, not Cherokee, territory). Don’t be afraid of fleet sales for the moment. In this situation the products are a cheap hedge against rising fuel prices.

    If the cars are too expensive to make for that strategy to be practical, then burn it down and be ready to bring back a Fiat or two with a Dodge badge if fuel prices go up.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Fiat has been very successful throughout Europe as a manufacturer of smaller, lower-tier vehicles for the masses. It has, with licensed models, succeeded in countries such as Poland and Russian where ownership of personal autos by the masses is still a relatively recent concept. All of this being said, Fiat really doesn’t make anything that would be popular in the large and varied US market where a small-sized offering is okay only if there’s something else provided to pique interest, a “something” that no one else offers. Perhaps an open-top 500 with a jaunty canvas rainbow canopy affixed for beach use would work but that would be about it. Its largest offering in Europe appears to be the Fiat Freemont which we all know and love as the Dodge Journey – can’t see it being imported as we already get it “Imported From Detroit!” – so there’s nothing larger on the shelf over there. I do not see reliability of Fiat vehicles as being as big an issue as some commenters maintain (the current articles are light-years ahead of the 124 coupe I drove years ago in quality and reliability)and many folks currently buying cars are too young to remember the dark days of waiting for parts on the slow boat from Italy while the 124 was rather quickly being consumed by the tinworm. The Fiat’s offered are just too much European-flavored vehicles aimed at the much different tastes/needs/taxation rules of the European markets. If I were up the boss in Auburn Hills (and had my 24-carat parachute firmly latched about my person), I’d shut off the Fiat tap at the European dockside (or la fabrica en Mexico) and hold a big sale.

  • avatar
    ronbo101

    My wife and I enjoy our two Fiats (a 2014 500L and a 2017 500X), as they’ve both proven to be reliable, economical and just quirky enough to appeal to that part of me that appreciates things not quite in the main stream. That said, I realize they’re not for everyone, and it seems clear to me that Fiat never intended that everyone should consider having one either. But they can’t stick around much longer here in the states unless something is done.

    I test drove a 2018 500L, and the cosmetics and interior improvements are enough to make me consider trading into one- the transmission programming is different as well making it quite a bit nicer to drive. But, the cars still have no tech, other than Apple Car Play and Android Auto. I thought for sure they were going to add at least a few things such as BSM and rear CTM. They’re trying to keep the price down no doubt, as the tech is available on their 500X’s. Fiat just started to offer a factory rebate of $3,500 on their 2018 500L’s, so apparently they’re not moving despite the improvement. Moving into a new Fiat at this point requires the buyer to assume an additional risk he or she wouldn’t even have to consider with most any other brand- that is, is Fiat even going to be around tomorrow?

    Anyway, what to do? I’m not sure I can give an unbiased answer, as I just really tend to like the cars, and I’m more forgiving than most of their shortcomings. I do wish they offered the Tipo here, Panda too, though I’m guessing neither was designed with the possibility of bringing them stateside in mind. I just googled the Punto, and it got a zero crash test rating, the only car to do so in Europe. No hope of that one making it stateside, of that you can be sure (basically a 2005 design that really hasn’t been updated since- not even side airbags).

    FCA isn’t helping their dealers out at all with any sort of advertising campaign- they pretty much leave it up to the dealers. FCA seem to be focusing entirely on Alfa Romeo for the time being. They won’t even update their website (other than build) to show the 2018 500L is the current model for that name plate. Oh well…

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    Basically, Fiat should never have come back. As each model is redesigned, give it to Chrysler or Dodge. The 124 would be a perfect fit as a Dodge or Alfa Romeo. Move some of other models to Chrysler. Wouldn’t be that difficult to change front and rear a tad to fit in. And if it’s at the redesign, it’s already in the sunk costs. So You still get the benefits of selling your cars worldwide, but in North America, the are sold under a different name.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    It would be nice if they’d offer all those Alfas considered too downmarket for a luxury brand in the US as Fiats. I’m thinking of the Giulietta hatch specifically. Don’t even change the grille, just swap out the round badge in the middle.

    Fiat simply needs more product. They have plenty, but none of it makes it to the US.

    Maybe spend advertising dollars attacking low end Honda/Toyota vehicles. Those cars are rare here, few Corollas or Civics in Istanbul. Give those buyers a reason to look at Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Fiat got Chrysler for free, by promising the US government that they’d bring in a fuel-efficient car.

      The 500. A burning demand for just such a car, so said House Speaker Pelosi.

      They brought it in; and it hit the market like the Titanic hit the iceberg. So much for making market decisions on the word of political operatives.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        False.

        They had to BUILD a high-mileage American sedan to close the deal on Chrysler Corp. That built car was the Dart MPG. And yes, it did live up to the mileage claim; but professional car reviewers claimed it had far too little power to be a true American car.

        Strangely, not every American owner agreed with that claim. Many of ’em liked it.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    The company is less than the sum of its parts.

    Fiat should be sold back to the Italians – it was successful, if not stellar, as a regional Euro-company. Like Renault. And with many of the same issues.

    The American divisions…there probably isn’t the operating capital to run them independently anymore…gutting the bank account twice over, does that…so, consider a sale to any international company that wants it.

    They could do worse than the Chinese. The Chinese learn how Western consumer economics works; and ChryslerRamJeep gets some discipline in the front office.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Rebadge them as Dodges and Chryslers and sell them as incremental products in those showrooms. IMO the folly was expecting dealers to have separate showrooms for low margin, low volume product. The network of Fiat dealers isn’t anywhere near as big, and the brand recognition isn’t either.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Already done, sort of, by Sergio. The late Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 were slightly widened and extended versions of the Fiat Compact Platform that was used for the Alpha Romeo Giulietta among others. Maybe not rebadges but incremental projects on an existing platform from Fiat. The Jeep Cherokee is an incremental Fiat product on this same platform that has had some success.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Wax the brand and make sure to reimburse all of the dealers you forced to spend millions to build Fiat only dealerships.

  • avatar
    quickson

    First, get out the time machine and do almost everything different…

  • avatar
    pb35

    Everyone is crying for a 2 door Charger. Take the 500 and rechristen it Charger 500. Throw a bumblebee stripe on it, add some high impact colors, bam! Profit.

  • avatar
    rje_nc

    I sure hope FIAT can find a way to stay in the US. I have not owned a car I like driving as much as my 2015 Abarth since my 87 Fiero GT. I guess I’m not normal because I have always been a small car fan (starting with an Opel GT right out of High School).

    The Abarth has been very reliable for me and the local dealer has been easy to work with for a couple of small warranty issues.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      My experience as well, I have a larger car for long distance driving… a 2013 MB E350 BlueTec. The Abarth suits me just fine for every day driving, a great commuter car in the Sacramento area.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    In as much as folks who’s best suggestion is to “kill it with fire”, I would like to digress. We need more options in our automotive ecosystem, not less.

    Note to Sergio: The whole aping Mini (MINI) marketing thing was a total failure. However, the idea about a cut rate Mini competitor is a good idea. They need two lower levels of the 500 Coupe & Convert. The Abarth Coupe (no convert) and a 695 or SS version to make it interesting. The 500L was a bad competitor to the Countryman, but the 500L Living might have been a better competitor in the same space.

    With that, Fiat has the head space to get out of the “everything is a 500-shaped thing” unlike Mini. I don’t know if there’s a business case for the Toro (the new Fridgeline gives me concern) but that would be a breakout from the 500 only stuff.

    I’d love to see the Tipo here in the US, but maybe as an alternative to the compact Hyundai or Rio. Aim for the cheapskates and first timers but give it a good warranty to keep them happy. There’s three versions of the Tipo, there should be something everyone likes.

    The new Panda could be a quirky hit like the original xB was. Plus it has optional 4×4…

    Like someone else said, the right product would make a big difference. Regardless, I hope they stay around, we need the diversity in our marketplace.

  • avatar
    Charles Clement

    I have an Abarth 500,and I love it. I think a small pickup would be perfect. I really think if FCA built SOME really super looking and stylish vehicle people would buy them regardless of the name. KIA Toyota,Hyundai,GM all make crap cars,but they look nice……………………………………………………………MAKE SOME REALLY ATTRACTIVE SEXY CARS,AND PEOPLE WILL BUY THEM REGARDLESS OF NAME.ITALY HAS THE BEST STYLING STUDIOS IN THE WORLD,JUST DO IT OK

  • avatar

    the 124 fiata spider and the original 500, especially the abarth version with its rorty exhaust note, are worth keeping. all of their other attempts, not so much.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Wonder if the 124 interior can be swapped into an MX-5?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Not sure that FIAT can be saved, or even should be. Some have mentioned the small pickup. I don’t see that being successful here. We’re not exactly a gushing market for such. And bringing more of their Euro-centric small cars? Also a dead plan walking. We love us some CUV and SUV. Problem is, while the 500X looks pretty sharp, there just isn’t enough “presence” for it to make any waves in the market. And while I understand the utility of the 500L, I think most people have a hard time getting over the physical appearance of it. So, where does that leave FIAT? A niche player in the sporty/city car market, perhaps? Despite all of the doom and gloom surrounding FIAT, I still get as giddy as a school girl when I see an Abarth and always roll the window down to hear that exhaust…it’s my secret “wish I had one in my garage as a toy” vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “I don’t see that being successful here. We’re not exactly a gushing market for such.”

      How would you know? We haven’t seen a new one in over 30 years while 20-year-old compacts are running all around the South. I’ve got one myself. I fully believe a true SMALL pickup would be a big seller.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I agree with Vulpine, a small pickup makes sense for segment of drivers who have the need for the utility, but don’t have the space or don’t want the size of current pickups. But pricing will probably damn it to a tiny market share and FCA doesn’t have the capital to make it work.

      And I’m in the same boat as 3er, I loooove the Abarth’s exhaust sound. I’m still scheming on how I can get one in my garage…

  • avatar
    quickson

    1) They should Abarth everything. All of it. I was very close to buying a 500 Abarth but it makes more sense for us as a 3rd car. I’m willing to live with the compromises for the fun. But if I’m just buying an econobox, I’ll go with one I can drive into dust… Toyota, Honda, Kia.

    2) The 500L suffered a LOT from the DDCT issues upon launch. A number of essentially undrivable examples are now flooding the used market. But from what I’ve seen, it’s actually a killer package in space/footprint. It’s just been poorly built. It looks like the refreshed models (2017 or 2018?) have a lot better fit and finish, but…

    3) There’s nowhere to buy them. By the time they brought out the 500x, half the standalone dealerships were already closing around here. If I wanted to buy a Fiat or take it for service, I’d have a 50-mile round trip. And I live in DFW, not Pecos. I can trip on my front porch and fall into a Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda dealership.

    4) Figure out your market. Based on what I see in my area, one major issue Fiat has is they’re selling city cars with no electrification and middling mpg ratings. The demographic around here that primarily would buy the cheap, cute, fun, whatever that Fiat is selling are urban hipster types. They intentionally ride bikes as adults (and not because of DWIs). They ride around on Vespas and listen to vintage soul in vinyl. A lot have careers in the arts (which means they have jobs elsewhere). I could be wrong (it’s happened before), but I just think their product would be better served if it played into the green side of their demo. I know that’s blasphemous for FCA, but it is what it is.

  • avatar
    Bloody-Brit

    I went to http://www.dashboard-light.com to see what I could learn about Fiat quality. They do not sell enough cars to get a quality rating there.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      My point exactly, BB. People are trying to treat CR and JDP reports as if they were immutable canon when they really don’t have enough data to give an accurate report.

  • avatar
    kushman1

    I think Fiat should remain with the 500 /abarth as the sole models to fill the city car niche and focus on that. The 500x, should’ve been sold as a luxury Chrysler version and sporty dodge version. The 124 spider should’ve been an Alfa Romeo. FCA in this suv boom could get away with rebadging all jeep suvs for both chyrsler and Dodge. There’s a huge demand for suvs right now and it would work. There wasn’t really a reason to kill the dart and 200, and in hindsight those should’ve been upmarket alfa versions to flush out the range for volume with guilia being the flagship. FCA’s problem isn’t a lack of product it’s a lack of common sense as to what brand should sell what models. Dodge is cool again with the charger styling. Chrysler was doing well with imported from detriot and the TC, sebring but they drowned the brand out for pacifica (and waymo etc). FCA has all the reasources to be successful, but Sergio doesn’t have the common sense to want to do so.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    First a mea culpa — having driven / owned several FIATs back in the day, I’m a fanboy. Yes, quality then was deficient, and rust protection (lack of) in particular was their downfall — but let’s keep things in context: everybody’s products sucked throughout the 1970’s. As for today to revive the brand in the U.S.:

    1) Something like the old 131 sedan and wagon — with Italian styling and handling. While such wouldn’t sell in the numbers of Camry / Accord, especially at first, it would provide a compelling alternative to the ANGRY ARTHROPOD look that is currently de rigueur with the Japanese (and increasingly American) brands. Slotting in price as a “European sport sedan” below Volvo / Audi could be attractive for enough buyers to make it worthwhile for FCA — and build a foundation for future growth in market share.

    2) As “halo” entries, a real 124 Spider and Sport Coupe like the classics of the 1960’s / 1970’s — not a badge-engineered Mazda. It’s surprising how many still have fond memories of those cars, even if they had mechanical / electrical challenges and died of tinwormitis. With contemporary quality, these could be winners — especially if priced to be (relatively) affordable (and insurable) by millennials (i.e., below Camaro / Mustang on a net basis of cost + insurance). This could be done inexpensively off of the new 131 platform — recall that the original Spider / Coupe were “124’s” built off of the 124 sedan chassis, while the X1/9 was derivative of the 128 sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Good ole dayz

      P.S. A new 131 series emulating the old “three box” look would be a revelation to many potential buyers. Relatively “clean” sides without a lot of swoops and creases (i.e., pre-Bangle / pre-current Japanese) styling — tasteful and relatively restrained. Add in a real greenhouse with lots of glass to both provide a bright, airy feel inside and safer-feeling ability to actually see around you, and you could have a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      This comment I can really relate to. My first new car purchase was a ’74 X1/9. I owned it for 6 years and – except for the substandard vinyl used on the seats and 2 window regulators I had to replace – I had no trouble because I adhered to the maintenance schedule. I put 99k miles on it and only sold it because we needed another large car for our young family. It still holds a place in my heart. Fiats aren’t for everyone, but they do fill a niche. I’m a big fan, as well.


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