By on July 7, 2020

Fiat Chrysler’s Serbian assembly plant was the first European auto factory to shut down as a result of the growing coronavirus pandemic — a grim harbinger of things to come, and not just for Europe.

That temporary February shutdown stemmed from a parts shortage arising from the hard-hit Chinese manufacturing sector. A far more prolonged shutdown came in mid-March, for obvious reasons. Well, that’s all over, as a crucially important product is now back in production, ready to satiate the hunger of the American buying public.

Yes, as of Tuesday the Fiat 500L is again being assembled by the workers in Kragujevac, Reuters reports.

Obviously, it’s good news for the Serbian economy, though the plant’s reopening will do little to boost any fortunes on this side of the Atlantic. Certainly not Fiat Chrysler’s. The odd-duck 500L remains the weakest product sold by an afterthought brand that could dry up and blow away in the wind at any moment.

Fiat Chrysler really doesn’t like talking about Fiat’s potentially nonexistent future on these shores, yet the brand still manages to collect some buyers each month. Ever fewer buyers, but buyers just the same. In the second quarter of 2020, the 500L somehow amassed 124 sales in the U.S., bringing the model’s year-to-date total to 254 units — a 36-percent decline from 2019.

North of the border, in the semi-mythical land of Canadia, a grand total of three people drove home in a shiny new 500L in Q2 2020. Clearly, fear of the virus and various lockdown measures played a role, as Q1 saw five people do exactly this. The country’s first-half sales of eight 500Ls was in stark contrast to the 10 sales seen through June 2019.

How small a brand is Fiat these days? In the U.S., more people bought an Alfa Romeo Giulia in Q2 than they bought Fiats of any description, and the Giulia is not even Alfa’s top-selling model in that market.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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26 Comments on “Good News: The Fiat 500L Is Back in Production...”

  • avatar

    Total US FIAT sales for CY 2019 was 9204 units. Now the 500 hatch is dead. The FIATa is reportedly dying.

    They moved 3267 500 hatches last year and 2646 124 Spiders. I guess FIAT dealers are pretty much used car lots and service centers now.

  • avatar

    who would have thought that the 500L would be the canary in the coal mine?

    Glad they’re back in production. The sales of this car are a joke in North America, but European sales are pretty healthy.

  • avatar

    Look at that thing – are those nine inch wheels? It looks like something my little sister pushed her dolls around in.

    (Abarth owner here, BTW :)

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Car Talk guys used to really like these. They said that it compares favorably to their old Dodge Colt Vista.
    Offering awd on these like the 500X might increase sales.

  • avatar

    What will Tony Fix Again without FIAT?

  • avatar

    I remember the first 500L I bought – a ’14 POP w/40k miles. I went out to the lane, got it, turned the key, wondered why it wouldn’t kick over, then looked down, realized it was a stick, and immediately thought, “I’m going to have this thing for three months…”

    I did.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Always enjoy @FlyBrian’s comments. Good to see that you are still hanging around.

      One of our mechanics has a 500L and ‘loves’ it. A nice combination of interior space and good visibility in a ‘small’ package. Much like the ‘dream’ car of so many here, the ‘tall’ hatch that so many of us think meets the actual ‘needs’ of most commuters/grocery getters.

      And it’s available as a manual?

      Saw a Fiat 124 driving along just yesterday. What a lovely looking little roadster.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I see really good deals on the Fiat 124 in the low to mid $20k range. If you want a Miata but are ok with the Fiat multiair engine, retro styling and different interior they could be the perfect answer.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Fiat has a 90-day inventory in the US, and only half of those are 2020 models.

    FCA: It’s time to call it.

    Too bad for the dealers who invented $1 million a decade ago so they could offer the special Fiat buying experience.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s about “Fiat buying experience”? How special it is? Are free espresso and pasta with a bottle of Chianti included in sale?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        The shopping experience involved someone trying to figure out where on the lot they had stuck the 124’s and 30 minutes of them trying to find them and me wondering why a FIAT/Alfa showroom had a used SRT Charger and a used Mercedes SUV on the showroom floor rather than any vehicles from FIAT or Alfa. The saleslady was pleasant enough though and just tossed me the keys, no ride along which I always appreciate.

        when FIAT departs again, I wish they’d give the 124 to Dodge and let them put the Hemi in it. Call it the Prowler Hellcat or some such deal. Never happen, but would be fun.

  • avatar

    The 500L had led the small MPV category in the EU for years, but the MPV category is dying due to a shift to CUVs.

    Here, I don’t know why they persist with it. Probably the only thing it does is cannibalize the 500X. If I was running fCA, the L would have been gone within a year or two of the X coming out.

    I checked stock at the 20 Fiat dealers nearest Detroit a while back. Four of the Fiat dealers had *no* Fiats in stock, though they still show the Fiat logo on their web sites Most of the others seem to only be persisting until they run off the last of their 2019s as they have zero 2020s in stock.

    I really like the 500 Cabrio, would love to have one, but I can’t imagine trying to get it serviced after the dealers quit on the brand. An acquaintance has a 500. Both of the Mopar dealers in JAX have dropped Fiat and refuse to service it, even though his is out of warranty. They tell him to take it to Daytona, 90 miles away.

    I see that FCA has also dropped the Caravan and Journey. I will be watching to see if they implement the Steve Plan to replace the Journey.

    • 0 avatar

      QUOTE: “An acquaintance has a 500. Both of the Mopar dealers in JAX have dropped Fiat and refuse to service it, even though his is out of warranty. They tell him to take it to Daytona, 90 miles away.”

      If out of warranty why not just utilize a local indep. shop??

  • avatar

    FlyBrian, I can honestly say I’ve never bought a vehicle not knowing what transmission is in it, and that’s over 300 vehicles.

  • avatar

    They could of just emailed their six customers to let them know

  • avatar

    This vehicle is striking in person. As in, “Wow, that thing is strikingly ridiculous.”

  • avatar

    I like weird cars. I like cheap cars. I like unloved cars. I like underdogs. This is the worst car I’ve ever been a passenger in.

  • avatar

    I am pretty sure there are still brand new 2017 and 2018 models sitting on lots around here…

  • avatar

    I can’t be bothered to look up whether the Medusa-faced 500L is still on sale in Canada. Well, OK, I just did look for a hoot. Apparently available but online only. No wonder! Look at these countrywide MEGAsales:

    They sold 42 in 2017, 13 in 2018 with a 30% rebound to 16 last year. 2020 YTD is 5. This is a dead duck quacking.

    The 500 minicar sold 269 in 2018, 117 in 2019 and 12 this year so far. Gronk.

    You can’t polish a you-know-what. Stick a fork in Fiats, they were done years ago and are getting stinky. It’d be cheaper to donate what’s left in inventory to church groups to use as the Raffle Grand Prize than maintain a webpage.

    One of our local billionaires who owns 39 dealerships of every brand across the regon, refused to carry any Alfas after his Fiat “experience”, so anyone who feels the urge can drive to Montreal 750 miles away and sample their delights. Then self-isolate for two weeks on the way back.

    Marchionne’s folly, and he was a Canuck lawyer.

    • 0 avatar

      Aren’t there a bunch of Jeeps with the same underpinnings as the 500L? If so, the tooling is paid for, so they can mess with it a bit. How about a 4-door convertible? Maybe a mini-pickup?

      I think somebody with a sawzall and some welding chops could conduct some experiments cheaply.

  • avatar

    Maybe the Pope intervened?

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