By on April 12, 2018

“See that sign over there?” The weathered, weary general manager of the dealer I was visiting that day pointed in the direction of a shiny, silver and red beacon with the word “FIAT” in bold capital letters. He spat the still-burning cigarette out of his mouth and stomped on it in disgust. “Cost me $27,000. They gave me the franchise for free, but they made me pay for that damn sign.”

“How many Fiats have you sold since you put it up?” The exasperated look he shot me after I asked that question told me that perhaps I shouldn’t have ventured into that territory.

One. One freaking car. I’d have to sell about 40 of the damn things just to pay for the sign, much less make any money.” He gestured toward the line of Fiat 500Xs that were crowding his lot. “You wanna take a couple with ya? I’ll make you a hell of a deal.”

Even though I’m actually rather fond of the little crossover, I’m not fond enough to actually buy one. Apparently, nobody else is either. And that’s a problem for FCA dealers.

If you’re playing along at home, you’ll realize that 27,000 divided by 40 is 675. I verified with the GM that he wasn’t just spouting that number out of frustration — he said that’s all the money there is to be made, on average, with the Fiat line of product. And after reviewing the data on Edmunds.com, he may have been generous with his estimations. Even if a customer comes in and pays MSRP with no questions asked, there’s less than $200 of room between the invoice price and sticker. Factor in holdback and you might be in the $600-700 range, but as you can see in the screenshot of Edmunds data at the top of the page, the true market value for these cars is considerably under invoice minus holdback.

That is, of course, assuming anybody actually wants to buy one. “Interested in a Ram 1500? How about this little pansy car over here instead?” One of the sales guys mimed a common customer interaction. “A Jeep Wrangler? What about this Fiat? Nah, man, I don’t think so.” All of the Fiats on this lot were 2017 MY, because the GM had no interest in ordering any 2018 inventory.

My eyes drifted over to a black Abarth 124 Spider that was hiding behind the row of 500x inventory. Like the rest of the Fiats on the ground there, it was a 2017 model, with a sticker price of $31,500 or so. I’ve driven the Abarth before, and I’ve found it to be about 90 percent of an ND Miata when it comes to driving enjoyment — the exhaust note is unpleasant, but the rest of the car is quite delightful. “What about that one?”

The GM laughed. “Hell, I’ll give you that one. Tired of looking at it.” I checked the invoice on that one, and there’s a little bit more profit — about $600 plus holdback. Unfortunately, no matter how good the deal might be, I have no need for a two-seater convertible in my life. I shared my feedback with the GM, and he agreed. “We’ll probably end up writing it down and then trying to sell it as a used car down the road. Instead of losing money, we’ll make a little bit. If we can even sell it that way.”

FCA finds itself in a bit of a pickle — it doesn’t have a Chrysler or Dodge small car anymore, and nobody is interested in the small Italian Jobs pushed by Fiat. I imagine somebody in Auburn Hills thought that the Fiat lineup would fill the gap left by the Dart and the 200. Insert a Donald Trump “WRONG” gif here.

Fiat sales in the U.S. are down 44 percent, year over year, making it the worst-selling non-exotic brand in America. Fiat volume lags behind such volume makes as… Genesis. Even brother Alfa outsells Fiat. The current Fiat on-hand supply is the highest of any manufacturer, at a whopping 161 days — that’s right, Fiat doesn’t have to ship another car to dealers until September 20th and they’ll be just fine.

We could do a Fiat Death Watch series here, but why? It’s like doing a Death Watch on your 104-year-old great-grandmother. We all know it’s coming, right (Of course, it’s coming for all of us someday #nihilism)? If FCA really cared about dealers at all, it would stop punishing them with these mini floorplan anchors, and they’d look at bringing back a passenger car — any passenger car — that Chrysler and Dodge dealers could actually sell.

In the meantime, if you actually are interested in a Fiat, give your local dealer a call. My guess is he’ll beg you to take one off his hands at a significant loss.

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130 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: When Fiats Attack (the Bottom Line of Dealerships)...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Bark, don’t you know? The Dart/200 flop was all part of Sergio’s Divinely Inspired Plan To Just Sell Jeeps And Rams. How dare you question The Sweater’s genius?

    (In actuality, folks, he got lucky – the economy kept getting better, gas prices stayed low, and credit stayed loose.)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    #Nihilism…

    So FCA dealers are trapped in their own private version of “No Exit”?

    I played Joseph Garcin in a college production. “Those EYES god those EYES!”

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      My local dealer is Fiat/Alfa. I almost feel sorry for that guy every time I drive past his dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You may not have to feel all that sorry for him – Alfa’s doing well.

        • 0 avatar
          Drew8MR

          My area (coastal OC) should be prime ground for Alfa,but I have seen maybe 2 on the road. Never seen a 4C,and I see Mcclarens,Bugattis and Koenigseggs (well, the same 2 every day,but still) all the time. They sure aren’t making many inroads here.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m in the same place Drew is, just on the opposite coast and with worse weather. Tesla is common here, and if you want to be low profile it’s Audi. The $ is here around the burbs of NYC, in spades, but Alfa ? I saw one 4C once, and probably two Guilas. We’ve lots and lots of the big 3 US, big 3 German and big 3 Japanese dealers, but I couldn’t tell you where the Alfa Store is…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I see plenty of Giulias around here in Denver. The area actually has two Alfa dealers.

          • 0 avatar
            baconator

            The 4C is in an uncanny valley: Too expensive to be a middle-class weekend toy, too impractical to be a daily driver for 32-year-old MBAs, too cheap and slow to be exciting to the 0.1%ers that are snatching up 488s and Huaracans.

            If I were the product manager I’d drop in the 2.9L twin-turbo V-6 from the Quadrifoglio and bump the price up to $120k. Unfortunately it now has the reputation as a 4-cylinder car, and a move upmarket is always tricky from there.

        • 0 avatar
          James2

          Saw a Giulia in the wild for the first time. Wow, what a good-looking car.

      • 0 avatar
        Tinn-Can

        Our local FCA dealer built a special stand alone store for Alfa and Fiat… Then it sat there for like 2 years before any Alfas came… Last time I drove past, they stripped the Alfa signs down and are sending all the 500s back to their main truck dealership. I think the owner got an offer from someone that wanted to open a VW dealership and he wasn’t making anything from that store…

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      More like the movie “Airplane.”

      “They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say let ’em crash.”

      • 0 avatar
        quickson

        I don’t have a “local” Fiat dealer. In DFW, half of the standalones died. So while I can fall off my back porch into about every other dealership on the planet, buying a Fiat means a 30-mile drive in any direction to deal with it. Given their build quality/reliability….

        Somehow I still see more 500Ls driving around than I think is possible given that there might be 10 on lots around the metroplex. Probably just the same 3.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Bark, what’s the skippy on TrueCar? Wasn’t it you who once detailed on these very pages that it is no longer valid data as it is in bed with the carmakers and/or dealers? I can’t recall which, and am hoping for an update on that related subject.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t comment on TrueCar, or any other third party advertiser. Conflict.

    • 0 avatar
      earthwateruser

      I used TrueCar back in 2014 to buy our daily driver and it worked great. I got a very good price and the dealer was totally up front about the out-the-door cost to within a couple of bucks. Fast forward to 2015 when I was shopping for a Fiat 500 Turbo and I used TrueCar again. I picked the local Fiat dealer and it turned out that they didn’t even have the quoted car in stock and they basically laughed about the TrueCar quote and said there was no way they could sell the car for that price. I ended up buying a lightly used 2014 Abarth and I love it, but I totally lost any confidence in TrueCar. It is only as good as the dealer is honest.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That was me who said that, because I’d watched TrueCar extract $300 from a dealer who didn’t actually get the customer through TrueCar.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    My friendly neighborhood FIAT dealer (Findlay FIAT – go visit them, they’re bored!) has a stripped-out ’17 500 POP on their website for $12k (plus taxes and fees, of course).

    Of the whopping 30 cars in inventory on their website, 21 of them are 2017 models.

    They also sell Alfa. They have 38 of those in stock, all 2018 models.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    I think you are right with crucifying Fiat vehicles. They have no reputation and they are small. Why would any one want one of those? Fiat should have never imported them.

    What I am concerned about is for the day that Fiat tries to replace the Challenger, 300, and Charger with some stupid Fiat platform. Same goes for Grand Cherokee.

    They should leave those platforms alone for ever.

    If they want a small car, use the Guiletta platform, but that also won’t sell. Cars don’t sell in America. The old platforms are at least proven and unique and should hang around for ever.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Well, if they replace the Challenger with the Giulia platform it wouldn’t be too bad. As long as they don’t call it the Duster or something. 305 base hp from the Pentastar and then up to 450 in a forced induction version in a competent chassis.

  • avatar
    markf

    I can’t imagine there is much surprise in the auto industry, Fiat are terrible, terrible cars. Plus, pansy is right, they appeal to some girls (not women) No self-respecting man or half a man, would ever been seen driving one of those chick-mobiles……

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Come out to Cars and Coffee Richmond some Saturday morning. A few of the boys would like to have a word with you. And their Abarths will probably humiliate you rather badly on a back road.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Well, considering I don’t drive a sports car, yes they will “humiliate” me and my Sienna and 4Runner on the back roads.

        You can try and butch it up all you like, but like the “New” VW Bug, the Fiat 500 is and will always be a chick-car

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          “…Fiat 500 is and will always be a chick-car”

          Don’t be sexist.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            ““…Fiat 500 is and will always be a chick-car”

            Don’t be sexist.

            Pointing out that these cars are mostly bought and driven by women is not “sexist”

            Lighten up Francis.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ve never seen a woman driving an Abarth.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Lighten up Francis.”

            You know, people tend to lighten right up when they’re not around someone who’s saying jerkweed nonsense like “guys are sissies for driving this car or that.” Food for thought.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          As a fellow 4Runner owner, I have to concede that most of the 5th Gens I see are being piloted by younger moms on suburban duty. This SUV is the real deal, but it’s venturing into chick-car status for chicks that now have chicklets to haul around.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            I don’t disagree, the 4Runner is my wife’s car, though I take it for hunting and off roading.

            Almost every SR5 and Limited is driven by a Mom and I don’t understand as there are WAY better SUV/CUV choices for hauling kids in comfort. But then again I am in Colorado where you gotta fly the “lifestyle” colors with your vehicle…….

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “I’ve never seen a woman driving an Abarth.”

            I have never actually seen an Arbath on the road, just chicky regular 500s

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “You know, people tend to lighten right up when they’re not around someone who’s being a jerkweed. But that’s just me.”

            Jerkweed is almost as good a jerkstore.

            You need to lighten up to. It was a joke. J O K E, you remember those before everything was deemed “ist”? Stop trying to police my language, its tiresome

            Some cars are perceived as “chick” cars, any VW Bug, any VW Cabriolet and the 500 all come to mind

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I have absolutely no problem ignoring everything you say, mark. Peace out.

        • 0 avatar
          theBrandler

          I’ve got a Sienna too, I’ll bet it’s faster than the Abarths. It’s got near-as-makes-no-difference 300hp. Dang thing is an overgrown hot hatch if you put it in DTC-Power mode!

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “I have absolutely no problem ignoring everything you say, mark. Peace out.”

            Don’t forget to castigate the poster who said “Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming”

            That is blindist or is it sight-impairedist?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Awww, get some sand in your vagina markf?

        • 0 avatar
          IBx1

          Bahahah, you have two mommymobiles and you’re talking crap about our Abarths, that’s rich.

        • 0 avatar
          scuzimi

          Chick Car…? Really, maybe you should look at a few Fiat Abarth forums… about 95% male ownership. Wow… butch it up… I drove a 4 Runner for 12 years and it couldn’t hold shit against my Abarth.

          I owned a 2012 Abarth for 5 years, loved it, very few problems, only sold because I hated the hard seats and the wife … my “Chick”.. hated it. I sold the Abarth to a “Chick”.

      • 0 avatar
        dantes_inferno

        > A few of the boys would like to have a word with you. And their Abarths will probably humiliate you rather badly on a back road.

        Tell that to the guys in the Subaru STIs, Civic Type Rs and the like, and they’ll laugh right in the faces of those chick-mobile drivers while showing those Abarths their tail lights. Half those Abarths will wind up being towed before finishing the course.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          He owns an Arbath so by saying a “few of the boys” he meant “me”

          • 0 avatar
            Syke

            No, there’s 8-10 of us on any given Saturday. Considering mid-summer C&CR is about 200 cars, that’s not a bad showing.

            By the way, something I learned a long time ago is that you don’t laugh at what somebody else drives. What may be ridiculous to yourself just may be very comfortable to somebody else.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Except this guy…I’m still toying with the idea of an Abarth. Make it Grigio with red leather and ONLY a manual trans will do. Every time I have one of those pull up next to me, I roll the window down just to listen to the exhaust note. That said, I am a realist in the fact that the 500 in general has limited appeal. They need more products than just derivatives of the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      This article was about Fiat, not Jeep

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Dude, you drive a minivan, get over yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Wow, such sensitive people on this site. I guess the end of joking is really upon us. Minivans and 4Runners are “mommy mobiles” but call a Fiat a chick mobile and the knives come out.

        Lighten up. It’s a joke, teasing, breaking balls. I guess car nerds put their identity into what they drive. Sad!

        I don’t need to “get over myself” Yeah I drive a minivan cause I have kids. And it does 0-60 in the same time as an Abath

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          markf, if you have to joke, try to be funny instead of embarrassing.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          No, if you are going to come in here playing the what a “Self Respecting Guy” would drive game and then proclaim you drive a minivan you should expect to get some ribbing. Welcome to the Internet. I know minivans are at least as quick as a gen 1 Miata because seemingly every time some dude pulled up next to me in one they would try to drag me. Most of the time they pulled ahead until the road turned in the slightest and the Miata got happy while the minivan driver was swamped with a wave of cherios, bottles, week old sandwiches, melted crayons, leapster games, toys, old diapers that got away, and whatever else was rolling around in the interior at the time.

          As long as we are doing vehicle owner stereotyping, I have never been in a minivan that didn’t look like the Toy’s R Us Giraffe hadn’t thrown up all over the interior.

          • 0 avatar
            oldladycarnut

            markf, the juvenile creator of stereotypes and sexist comments. MINI Coopers and now Fiat 500s.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    So, what on earth happens with a lot full of 2017s?!? Eventually the tires will flat-spot, wiper blades and other rubber parts will dry out. What does a dealer do? I’d buy a 500x if it was REALLY cheap, just like I would have rolled the dice on a 200 for the right price, but it’s have to be super-duper cheap to offset atrocious depreciation and uncertainty with FCA’s future.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My Buick dealer has a 2017 Regal sitting on his lot (turbo, AWD non GS, black cherry color, black interior) I suspect it’s been sitting there since late 2016. He’s only marked it down to $32K. He needs to get more aggressive.

      I do wonder about the long term lot queens and what happens sitting and sitting and sitting…

      • 0 avatar
        CincyDavid

        My local store, Joseph FIAT, has a ’17 500x Trekking, black on black, for $21k. I’d be all over that for $15k, but at $21k that’s not nearly as enticing. I could grab a VW Tiguan Limited for $19.5k and feel better about that than a FIAT.

        If the residuals weren’t horrible I’d be game for a cheap lease deal, but of course that wouldn’t work because of depreciation.

      • 0 avatar
        3XC

        A friend of a friend picked up a new Saab 9-2X that had sat for a year plus, between the port where it sat in a stockade and the dealership where it sat some more. The battery was dead but the car was fine.

      • 0 avatar

        Sitting in the sun out there where you are? Some quick aging of plastics, and the glue underneath it all I’d suspect.

        Thinking of that melted crayon smell in old BMW and VW cars.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Richmond’s on it’s second Fiat dealer – it’s the local VW/Audi dealer, who’s added Alfa Romeo/Maserati in a separate building on the property, and has a number of Fiat’s but no Fiat sign. And all Fiat’s are out on the lot.

    Damned shame, as I’ve had my 500c Abarth two years now and am happy as hell with it. Fun, enjoyable, economical, reliable . . . . and different. I don’t see myself coming down the street every half hour, and its enough fun to drive that I catch it infringing on the motorcycles for road time.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Fiat sales in the U.S. are down 44 percent, year over year, making it the worst-selling non-exotic brand in America”

    Fact check: In America, fiat IS exotic brand.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The initial launch was horrible, along with the media and ads. They tried to ape BMW/Mini with their original pricing strategy. MINI, has the aura of being BMW owned. You’re not buying a Mini, you’re buying a Mini BMW. Fiat doesn’t have that kind of cache.

    Since then, there’s been little mainstream product; while the 500L is not a bad concept, it ain’t pretty. The 500X is spendy, compared to it’s litter mate, the Renegade. To my eye, the star of the line up is the 500 Abarth, but with the recent “turbos for everybody” program, that star shines a little less brightly. Outside of that, I feel that the customization opportunities from the factory are far beyond just about anyone else outside of higher end Euro stuff in the US.

    It’s a Catch-22 situation; they don’t have the reputation to support the pricing and the pricing doesn’t reflect the reputation. What do you do? Go downmarket? Who *really* does well going downmarket? Even KIA is scratching and clawing (rather successfully, too) upmarket, away from it’s econocar roots.

    I can only hope that FCA decides not to “500” every car from here to eternity. All of the retro-cars run into a logical progression dead end at some point. The New New Beetle will die, other retro cars only got one generation. Fiat does have other cars in other markets that may be adaptable to the North American market. I’d love to see the Panda here, it would make a neat off-roader. Except, Jeep.

    Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Mitsubishi and Nissan are doing semi-well having gone downmarket

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        Nissan is NOT downmarket. From soup to nuts Nissan is full line covering middle of the market all the way up the GT-R supercar.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I don’t know about Mitsu, in particular. They’re down to what, three lines here in the US? The only car would be the Mirage, but the SUVs play in the field with the rest of the SUVs.

          Nissan is more like the Japanese Chevrolet, they cover all of the bases from top to bottom, but their reputation has suffered in the last several years. Kind of like Chevrolet’s if we’re honest.

          I’m waiting to see how the fallout with Ford and GM not offering as many of their small cars plays out in the market here. Will folks go for the Toyota & Honda obvious answers or try out the alternatives like Nissans and Mitsus?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Write off all the inventory, give one away with each Ram that you sell at a slightly inflated price, be a superstar Ram dealer, and don’t pay any income taxes this year. I’m only half joking.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Follow the old Jetta Trek’s lead: RAM 500 edition. The little Fiat comes pre-loaded into the pickup’s bed.

      Hell, that actually sounds interesting. A little runabout to zip and weave around town in and a big comfy truck for everything else.

      • 0 avatar
        Testacles Megalos

        We’ve had a 500 Sport for 3 years. It is a great “little runabout…(for) around town.” The Fiat is the daily local hauler and does that job well for little expense.

        The Jetta Wagon that sits next to it in the driveway is the New England Pickup (a real truck is just too big in this crowded metroplex, but if I were still in the Midwest I’d still have a pickemup). The Jetta for the big road trips and errands at Home Depot. Comfy and long legs. But they’ve gotten big.

        The Fiat has been trouble-free, it’s easy to service, and with Blizzaks is great in the snow. Its “styling” stands out amidst a sea of miniSUV road suppositories. What’s to not like?

        My guess is that if the FIAT name weren’t haunted by its Fix It Again, Tony past, there would be a better market for them in urban areas.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I like your driveway.

          Sounds like I really need to find an excuse to go drive one of these little Fiats before they go away. I like the concept a lot, but the only room in our life for a car that small is as a weekend toy and it would be competing against a used MX-5.

          We used to have a Jetta wagon. You’re right, they are excellent for long hauls. Great seats, great ride/handling balance, spot-on steering and tracking at interstate speeds. Impressive in a $20-25K car.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “My guess is that if the FIAT name weren’t haunted by its Fix It Again, Tony past, there would be a better market for them in urban areas.”

          Maybe, maybe not…assuming that the folks in urban areas who buy them aren’t over 40 (a pretty good assumption), they might never have been aware of how bad Fiats were back in the day. In fact, I think that’s what FCA was counting on.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I like it, but only if you can graft the Ram grill onto the 500. Call it “Mini-me.”

  • avatar
    seth1065

    As many have mentioned they are screwed, unless gas jumps about a buck a gallon , they will sit on the lots, I could go w a abrath 500 but way would I buy a new one the used ones are very cheap and while I could go that route I have plenty of other excellent choice so it would have to be a great deal, and even that may not work.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Speaking of the Miata/Fiata, and quick glance at Autotrader shows Fiat dealers selling their model for thousands under MSRP. Mazda dealers are staying much closer to sticker prices.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      Correct. I’m seeing ~ $25k for a “used” 124 Lusso which MSRPs for $37k, in a couple of provinces. They have ~500km on them, are fully loaded and written off as a demo. Dealer still doesn’t want to provide the full three year warranty though because it’s “used.” And because it’s a Fiat I’m still tempted to be completely annoying and try to negotiate.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Gianni must be rolling over in his grave….

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I wonder whose bright idea was it to have sticker and invoice so close? That doesn’t exactly give a dealer much incentive to try and push the brand.

    I’m all for MSRP being more reflective of actual selling price (it’s easy to get scared away from a particular model when the online configurator tells you it’s going to cost way more than your price range), but there’s no reason to squeeze THAT tight.

    And I’m with those that wonder what the business case was for introducing FIAT to begin with here. In an age when a car making it to 200k is considered utterly routine, how much market was ever there for a quirky Italian brand remembered as much for unreliability as a vague sense of sportiness. Add that to introducing an entire brand of small cars just as the CUV craze was slamming up to extreme heights, and that’s a guarantee of abject failure.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      “invoice” is now as useless a number as msrp. The money is still there for dealers to make, but it is burried in manufacturer to dealer incentives. How much money is there ? …. I no longer can tell as a consumer … and that’s the way the dealers like it.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    How much of a hit would they be willing to take on a 124 Abarth? Personally, I could live with driving one of those over a Miata.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    When mainstream manufacturers are canceling small cars left and right (multiple examples just this week), it’s not really hard to believe that a brand that only builds small cars and has arguably the worst reliability reputation in America might be struggling.

    I’m honestly surprised they have lasted this long. Even at the discounted price point there are still plenty of alternatives, both new and used, that would be more appealing.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming.

    Forcing dealers into Fiat only branded showrooms was an example of to the victor go the spoils. If someone on the management team gave a shat about moving metal Fiat would have just shown up in the showroom where ***every other FCA product of the period was being sold***. So after dealers spent millions creating this separate channel, only in 2016 were they allowed to close them – but the damage was already done. Prior to 2016 you would have had to go to the standalone to see the product, now of course you see it alongside Chryco but its more a WTF now than it would have been had it been this way from the get go.

    wsj.com/articles/fiat-chrysler-tells-u-s-dealers-they-can-close-standalone-fiat-showrooms-1457558997

    See that 22K invoice? Mark it 12, thats what they are worth.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The 500 should have been sold as Neon or some other Dodge name plate. The requirements of a separate dealership to sell what is just ONE unique model (ala Mini) is seriously foolish. That would be like a store that only sells hammers vs a store full of tools like Harbor Freight. Such a plan only works for the truly exotic brands where a single vehicle is in the six figure range. In the US small = cheap, so its a double whammy: Fiat doesn’t have many choices to offer buyers and then when people do purchase something they make only a tiny profit. If your a full line dealership you can easily let some cheap city cars go out the door when you also have high margin SUVs and trucks selling like crazy to keep the cash flowing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree JMII and I recall saying it at the time. I could never see the logic in, “2009/10: we must consolidate Jeep Dodge Chrysler dealers” and then “2013: we must create an entire Fiat distribution channel with indy dealers”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say the main problem was that the “Mini thing” was pretty much winding up by the time Fiat brought the 500 here.

      And then they made the 500 the only thing that they sold for YEARS (and, yes, I don’t include the non-entity known as “500L,” despite it being the Pope’s ride).

      If the 500X had come out far earlier, then the brand might have had a chance. But, yeah, it’s pretty much Game Over at this point.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Seeing as I cross-shopped everything that could be winter-ready, and I know that the FIAT Panda has a really good reputation, I looked at the big FIAT with AWD. A friend of mine works in a Tier 1 supplier – he showed me the quality numbers on those vehicles, which turned a great deal into a hard pass.

  • avatar
    vvk

    But Jeep Renegade seems to sell well — and it is basically a Fiat, made in Italy and all. Is it just the branding that scares US consumers away?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Branding… plus why you would buy the Fiat when there are way more Jeep dealerships around willing to wheel-n-deal. Also most non-car people likely have no idea the Renegade is a Fiat under the skin.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    My brother has a very busy repair shop in Vancouver, British Columbia. He’s open for business, for sure, but he refuses to work on Fiats. He says they are insanely hard to work on, taking way too much time for even routine jobs, they aren’t logically laid out, the parts cost too much, and most importantly he doesn’t feel he can offer his customer fair value. So he turns away business – not what he wants to do.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’d probably have considered a 500L if the rear seats would fold down and it wasn’t as homely looking. Or if there was an Abarth version.

    I drove a leftover ’14 500 GQ convertible a few years ago that I should have probably bought.It was fun, even if it isn’t the best numbers car. 500X is interesting, but I have no want of a small crossover. And I still love the Abarth 500, but I wouldn’t trade my Golf for one.

    Before my Golf, I was considering an Alfa Guilia lease. The car is a blast to drive, but the terms weren’t what I was willing to pay at the time. If Fiat has to go away for Alfa to survive, I’d rather see that.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    40 years ago Fiat was the top selling brand in Europe, now they have no presence at all outside of Italy. Fiat is a dead brand world-wide, because they can’t make money on mass-market small cars when they have niche sales, and even Italy is a shrinking market because Italians don’t have babies, and the Muslim immigrants seem to prefer heavy trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      Heavy trucks? Could you explain the reason for this preference, please?

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stockholm-sweden-truck-reported-attack-dead-and-injured/

        https://www.thewrap.com/watch-video-of-the-truck-attack-in-nice-france-video/

        https://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/19/europe/berlin-christmas-market-truck/index.html

        https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/31/us/new-york-shots-fired/index.html

        https://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/05/us/1993-world-trade-center-bombing-fast-facts/index.html

      • 0 avatar
        kenwood

        Sniff, sniff, sniff… Hmmm, smells like bait.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Here’s the actual Fiat sales information for Europe:

      http://carsalesbase.com/european-car-sales-data/fiat/

      Compared to Fiat sales in Italy of 402,350, Euro wide sales were 769,670.

      FCA sales in Europe:

      http://carsalesbase.com/european-car-sales-data/fiat-chrysler-automobiles/

      Funny, they seem to be going up each year.

      No mention of what Muslim immigrants are buying, but no doubt you’re the expert on that, worldwide.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    FCAs problem is simple. Fiat was doing well and then it bought a basically bankrupt Chrysler. So Fiat emptied its piggy bank and spent all the money fixing its US acquistion and fixing Alfa. Jeep was doing well but now underinvested Fiat lost sales momentum in Europe.

    So now FCA could dump all the Jeep profits into Fiat. But then Jeep will suffer.

    Truth is Fiat wasn’t never big enough to handle Jeep it needs a big partner or will fail. Cue Geeley? Tata? Or VW?

  • avatar
    James2

    My mom, who knows nothing about cars, once was given a Fiat 500L for a loaner. She hated it and anytime the subject comes up will trash-talk it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    FCA did make a good passenger car… the 200. Problem is FCA’s brands are just cursed in the sedan segments. If it doesn’t have a V8, 7 bar grille, or Italian name ending in a vowel it’s pretty much doomed. If Honda is having trouble moving Accords FCA doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in those segments.

  • avatar
    Ultraviolet Thunder

    I work with a woman who has a sewage brown 500L (a larger 500 with a white top); she had a flat – had to get the tire from a dealer. Took a week. She now has a check engine light on and they’ve had her car for 10 days and are having her drive a new one as a loaner car. When will they get to check the light to find out why it is on? Could be a month. And that might not include actually fixing what is causing the light come on.

    The car has been dependable in the two years she’s had it.

    But once again, third rate dealer service will kill the brand in the USA.

  • avatar
    blather233

    Long time reader, first time poster. Anyhow I don’t understand the GM’s comment: “We’ll probably end up writing it down and then trying to sell it as a used car down the road. Instead of losing money, we’ll make a little bit”. From an “on the books” perspective OK maybe you’ve made money because you’ve written it down like hell and now you’ve sold it for more than what you show it’s book value as. But in real world terms you bought the car for $x and have sold it for $x-$y How is that a profit?

    I’m not an accountant or anything more than a fan of cars so maybe I’m missing something here? Is this normal practice at dealerships?

  • avatar
    pale ghost

    Our fiat dealer was in an ex purpose built hummer showroom complete with a large pile of rocks for h2 test climbs. The showroom is for lease now with the fiats being sold out of a Chrysler dealer.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    It’s a niche car. Always was, always will be. If you own a franchise and aren’t in a fairly dense urban area, you are an idiot. The dealers in both of my homes are doing just fine, based on the zillions of 500s zipping around Portland, ME and Southwest Florida.

    Certainly the Portland dealer seems to turn over his inventory pretty quickly, never the same lineup out front for long. Couldn’t have been too much of an investment – the dealership is smaller than my garage, and they have three employees. Servicing is done at the Chevy store that the Fiat store is in the back 40 of. Seem to be selling decent numbers of Alfas now, starting to see more and more of them around.

    I absolutely LOVED my Abarth. Just a stupid amount of fun for a tiny, cheap car. Zero issues in the two years I had it. I would certainly pick a Spider over a Miata too. Better motor, better looking, and cheaper. Turbo all the things.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Fiat seems determined to become the Yugo of the 21st Century. Wait, Yugos were Fiats made in Yugoslavia.
    Seriously I rented a vehicle a few months ago. Wanted to get a CRV or RAV 4, but they put us in a Renegade. What an awful thing it was. The ride was harsh and bouncy and there was poor throttle response. Right off idle there was surging and hesitation. The steering was sometimes abrupt and sometimes vague, very inconsistent.
    I think the Renegade is a 500L/X with a Jeep looking body.
    The only reason I can see for anyone to buy it is the heavy discounts they are offering and/or youthful ignorance.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Fiat seems determined to become the Yugo of the 21st Century. Wait, Yugos were Fiats made in Yugoslavia.”

      Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn!

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Peugeot, take notes.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve always liked the 500 from a distance, but it’s weak sauce even with a stick. And, it’s basically a 2-passenger car.

    I once looked up the KBB on a 2-year-old new unsold 500 with 10 miles on it, and the trade-in was less than the heavily discounted price the dealer was offering.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    A FCA service tech on Reddit JRITS (credibility unknown) told me many early year 500s are going past 100,000 miles without a serious drivetrain failure. I’m pretty surprised.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I’m quite interested in the Fiata, actually. Maybe not soon enough to save the brand.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    What the heck was Marchionne thinking? Three models do not justify stand alone dealership requirements. There is not FIAT sold here or around the world that can be volume model in USA.
    Perhaps FIAT was an experiment to test the appetite of consumers for FIAT and a contingency toe hold in the market if Chrysler, RAM and Dodge were sold off or killed off.
    500, 500X and Spider would all be better off with Chrysler badging.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The vehicles are already made for other markets, federalizing and shipping them here was of minimal consequence to the company. The dealer floorplan is the dealer’s problem. Thinking long term however, the retail business has to be sustainable in order to maintain sales volume and even grow. That’s why if I were in charge, the models we see as Fiats would have come over with Dodge and Chrysler grilles. They would have sold more simply by virtue of the exposure of the greater dealer network.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Before I got serious about the SS sedan I was all over getting a new fiata as a beater, tune the hell out of the little turbo til she blew. In retrospect, I made the right choice, manual V8 was the better choice over the convertible sportster.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “they’d look at bringing back a passenger car — any passenger car — that Chrysler and Dodge dealers could actually sell.”

    FCA dealers don’t want these either. Crew cab trucks, Jeeps an SRT car or they’ll walk you over to the Nissan store in their dealer group.

    • 0 avatar

      This: Since a dealer store is no longer one brand, MegaDealer is happy to sell you something from “our organization”, not Chevy, Chryco or Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Especially since in many states dealers have multiple brands even under the same roof. Which is weird to me because up here in Canada, that’s a no-no. The dealer lobby in the US is obviously much stronger.

        I witnessed this many times. Since most dealers are now part of groups, they have targets to make at their Nissan, Hyundai, Honda etc. stores and will gladly feed compact car sales to those stores to keep the inventory rolling.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re forgetting rural dealers. The closest dealer in the group throughout much of flyover country could be 30 miles away. Most CDJR stores in flyover are pretty isolated.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Two years ago I saw a nice blue Panda in Chicago and wondered why it wasn’t sold here instead of the 500X.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Like Bark says, the 500X is a decent little crossover. I’ve road tripped one too and ended up liking it. It just wears the wrong badge. People just don’t shop Fiat. They have to go out of their way and pass a dozen other showrooms on route. I would fully expect to see a Dodge/Chrysler badged version down the road as the product fits the NA market well.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    And now you see why Fiat wanted to dump all those legacy JCR dealerships back in ’08; said dealers simply don’t want to sell them. If they did, they’d be doing everything they could to put those cars into the public eye and prove just how good they really are. YOU may not want one, Bark, but my wife did. Problem is, the only local dealership we could have bought one from was highly abusive to their Fiat customers and the next nearest was over fifty miles away (and actually had a color we liked.) Instead, we ended up buying a Jeep Renegade (same platform) at an FCA dealership much closer than the authorized Fiat dealer (twelve miles closer) and a much more friendly sales staff that has worked hard to keep us happy.

    Fiat apparently knew this from the beginning and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least that this newer dealership is taking sales away from the older, Fiat-authorized one. But the only way FCA is going to shut that other one down is to find some way to ‘encourage’ that other dealership to drop its franchise. Given its location, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

  • avatar
    mojeimeje

    Can a 124 be had for under $20k, new?

  • avatar
    RHD

    When test driving a 500 Fiat
    The customer asked, “Where’s the key at?”
    When he bent down to seek
    The saleswoman shrieked,
    “That’s not where it’s likely to be at!”

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I’m told that for 2018, all Fiat 500 coupes are now turbocharged–essentially identical to the short-lived Fiat 500 Turbo, which itself was essentially identical to the European-model Abarth (our U.S.-market Abarth is equivalent to their extra-hot model, the name of which currently escapes me). And, they now offer more equipment and cost less than before.

    That is, every 500 coupe is now a pocket rocket, and you can get one, with a manual transmission, for pocket change. If—in the age of the ponderous, dull-witted SUV—there’s actually anyone who still wants a lively little puppy, they’re in luck.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I love those lively little puppies. My problem is that I can’t keep three vehicles where I live without parking one in an “overflow lot.” So I have to make two vehicles do the job of three and I prefer each one able to perform two different tasks. So, the Renegade is small and quick while still offering decent carrying capacity for ‘bulk’ loads and the Ranger is small and (not so) quick and capable of carrying physically larger and more aromatic loads.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      The upgraded Abarth model in Europe is the “Esseesse”

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    My experience with the brand (going on 3 years of ownership now) is that the dealers and support are a big part of the problem. I am very happy with my car and it’s overall been reliable, but the local dealer is no good. Parts supply is low, they take forever to come in, loaner cars are hard to come by, and work is shoddy. There aren’t many other close alternatives. I’m considering replacing the car (or buying a second) just because I don’t have much confidence in being able to find adequate support and service as it ages.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Regarding the notion of having Fiat fulfill the small-car segment for Dodge and Chrysler…

    I am not nearly as learned or well-read as I would like to be regarding the death spiral of Willys/Hudson/Nash/Packard/Studebaker in the ’50s, the biggest takeaway I have is that there seems to be a critical mass when it comes to volume brands, a point below which consumer confidence in a brand evaporates, sufficient economy of scale to remain competitive is lost, and the business ceases to be viable. I suppose “mindshare” is applicable here.

    That Studebaker soldiered on as a zombie brand as long as it did selling handfuls of cars is remarkable, given that people seem to have thought it was a dead brand walking for nearly a decade before the plug was pulled.

    This echoes in the attempts to launch the Valiant and Comet (and Scion, if you like) as standalone quasi-brands which were folded back into their parents once it was clear the market wasn’t going to punish the main brand for offering a compact and the cost of separate promotion wasn’t necessary.

    As much as people like to dig up the “Fix It Again, Tony” chestnut for Fiat, some of that is lack of confidence in the product. But a lot of that is a lack of confidence in the brand itself, as in, “I haven’t seen many of these around, are they any good?” without an answer. Fiat may have reached critical mass briefly, but hasn’t sustained it.

    This has ramifications to FCA if one goes up a level in scope. As the model count at Dodge and Chrysler dwindles, they are at risk of losing critical mass even if the Pacifica and Ram 1500 sell well. This is the argument against GM continuing to sell one Pontiac model at Chevy dealers, for example.

    Some of this is by design, largely eschewing brand engineering and eliminating overlap. That’s all well and good, but that requires the consumer to consider all FCA models together in that mindshare consideration — effectively having to think of the Fiat 500 as a Dodge 500. This would be easier to do if Fiat was an ongoing established brand in the US, but it’s not.

    Which sets up an interesting question: would things be any different if FCA had put Plymouth Neon badges on the exact same car?

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    I hold Marchionne responsible for the crash of Faits in the USA… They did not bring all the great euro spec models to the USA, they didn’t support their USA dealers very well. When I take my X to the Chrysler dealership they tell me might be a few days until we can get a Fiat tech in. Well that inspires folks to buy one.

    MINI Cooper started off with a better plan and have done fairly well though they also didn’t import all they offered in Europe either. I owned 3 until MINI’s got stupid fuggly.

    I own a Fiat X, now that the Chrysler dealership has the trans working well I am really enjoying the car. Loved my Abarth but hated the seats.

    I’m looking into who might want to start a class action suit against FCA with me if the stop selling in the usa. I bought my Fiats because Sergio claimed he would never build a bad car on 60 Minutes. I’ve had great luck with my Fiats but I know others haven’t and the dealerships are not the greatest.

    If they pull out of the USA I’m left with a worthless vehicle which I bought thinking FCA would still be selling beyond 6 years, so now I may own a Saturn.

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