Fiat's U.S. Decline Continues Apace, but Somebody Please Put the Brand on Canadian Milk Cartons

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

If the Fiat brand was a human being, it was last spotted in the parking lot of a local bank. Police are now scouring the woods.

Launched with adequate, if not great, fanfare as a newly Italianized Chrysler powered out of the recession, the Fiat brand failed to put down roots in the American marketplace, with the automaker’s next five-year plan showing it as an afterthought with an uncertain future. Sure, Italy gets a wagon version of the little 500 and greener power options, but in North America, the brand went over with buyers like Catwoman or Heaven’s Gate did with movie audiences. Dealers aren’t exactly thrilled with having the Fiat name anywhere their Jeep or Ram banner.

As bad as the brand’s continued non-performance in America is, buyers north of the border have already moved on.

There’s been worse months for the Fiat brand in Canada. Two of them, in fact, and all in the last year. But July’s tally of 49 vehicles sold is just another reminder that the brand’s days are numbered, even if FCA won’t say so.

Stateside, Fiat posted a 45 percent year-over-year decline last month, with its year-to-date volume down 44 percent. It’s like the brand gets halved each year. In Canada, the road to invisibility apparently has a higher speed limit. Despite high gas prices and taxes, buyers clearly had more appetizing choices at the small car buffet — sales sank 53 percent in July and a whopping 79 percent over the first seven months of 2018.

In the Great White North, sales of the 500 city car fell 22 percent, year over year, in July (from 27 to 21 vehicles), while the 500X declined 14 percent (from seven to six vehicles), and the 124 Spider dropped 71 percent (69 vehicles to 20). Only the odd-looking 500L posted a monthly sales gain (100 percent!), as July’s two vehicles sold doubled last July’s single sale.

More people bought an Alfa Romeo Stelvio in Canada last month that took home a Fiat-badged car. The same can almost be said of U.S. buyers, too — the entire Fiat brand’s July sales tally, 1,240 vehicles, was just 100 units more than the Stelvio’s volume.

We’d show you a pie chart of how the Fiat brand fits into FCA’s volume, but there’s no nano-knife sharp enough to carve off a slice that thin. A little more than seven-tenths of one percent of FCA’s July volume (0.725 percent) was Fiat’s doing, which is pretty much the same share as its YTD volume (0.74 percent). In Canada, Fiat made up 0.28 percent of all FCA vehicles sold in 2018.

Excuse me, sir. Have you seen this brand?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Aug 06, 2018

    FCA have a leverage - as all you know dollar is a Fiat currency since 1971. Would it help if they renamed FIAT to Rambler?

  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Aug 06, 2018

    FCA never did much with the Fiat brand here - just the 500 + its variants, plus one sports car. Too married to the 500, zero modern-styled sedans/SUVs - and, fairly or not, the stigma of its '70s reliability issues. Mini is struggling too (not quite so much, since it has a more-positive BMW connection); I don't know if BMW wants it to ever become a more full-line brand, or remain a retro niche one.

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    • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Aug 08, 2018

      I can see MINI being an evolutionary styled brand, already the cars are becoming unrecognisable when parked against an original Austin/Rover Mini.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.