By on February 14, 2020

Of all the production upsets born of coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the idling of Fiat Chrysler’s Kragujevac, Serbia assembly plant is certainly not near the top. Not for American consumers, anyway.

The automaker announced Friday that the plant, home to the unloved Fiat 500L, will be offline until sometime late in the month. If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice?

As reported by Reuters, Kragujevac will have to postpone downtime already scheduled for the plant. The dried-up components sourced from a virus-hit China include electronic parts, among them audio equipment.

Local media states that Kragujevac used just 25 percent of its available capacity last year, making it a serious underperformer — much like the model it produces.

While FCA discontinued the current-generation Fiat 500 in the U.S. for 2020, the ungainly 500L continues for the current model year. The brand’s future in the North American market looks exceedingly grim; current product plans, as well as FCA execs, don’t have much to say about what we can expect from the brand in the next year or two.

2017 Fiat 500L - Image: FCA

Just how unpopular is the Fiat 500L? By far the slowest-selling model in the brand’s meager lineup, the 500L found just 166 buyers in the fourth quarter of 2019. Full-year sales amounted to 771 vehicles, which was down 45 percent from 2018. The previous year’s sales were down 15 percent from the year before that. A trend, one might say.

In Canada last month, 500L sales rose 100 percent, year over year… because the country’s dealers sold one. Full-year totals for 2019 show Canadians bought 12 500Ls, down eight percent (one vehicle) from 2018.

So, while the shuttering of the Serbian FCA plan won’t have much of an impact on the automaker’s bottom line, and certainly won’t disrupt dealer activity in this continent, it is notable for being the first instance of a European plant shutting down due to the viral outbreak.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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13 Comments on “This Stings: Coronavirus Comes for the Fiat 500L...”


  • avatar

    As the kids today would say…

    Absolutely Nobody: *
    Fiat: “INTRODUCING THE 500L!”

    The 500L is soon to join the ranks of the Suzuki Verona, Suzuki Kizashi, Isuzu Axiom, Mitsubishi Diamante, and all Daewoos as Cars People Buy Because It Was Like Under $3500.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    While the 500L is the market leader in compact MPVs in Europe, consumer preference is shifting to CUVs. This plant is shut as much as it is running due to slack demand, so, if FCA had to lose a plant to the Chinese supply situation, this is the one.

    China going offline could be a huge opportunity for India and Turkey, if they can deliver the quality parts that the European and North American markets require.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Virus’s do tend to kill off the sick and weak first.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    An ugly baby, born to an Italian father and former Soviet Bloc mother.

    Cars.com shows 201 available nationwide, apparently a 90-day supply.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I like it.

    There. Someone said it.

    Seriously though, it’s one of the more “true” European vehicles you can buy today. It’s far closer to what is actually parked in the driveway of a non-executive than what most people expect.

    Only issue for me is the lack of AWD. While the 500X has AWD, I actually prefer the 500L.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I never realized how much this looks like the PT loser.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    “If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice?” Yes, I was planning on buying 17 Fiat 500Ls in March.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    At the auto show last weekend, the one Fiat there was a Fiata Abarth.

    Mazda didn’t even have a Miata on hand!

    My church’s music director and his wife are the ultimate “orphan” owners — his a first-generation smart fortwo, hers a reasonably nice-looking Fiat 500 in dark blue over gray interior.

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