The junkyard tells me that the Fiat 500 depreciates nearly as quickly as the New Mini and Mitsubishi Mirage, though the current generation of 500 remains sufficiently recent that most examples I see are crash victims.
There’s no mistaking the vehicle you see here. It’s undoubtedly a Fiat 500, and a cursory glance leaves the impression that it hasn’t changed much.
It’s true, some things haven’t changed: the next-generation Fiat 500 is still small, still a two-door, still comes in hardtop or cabriolet form, and it still wears the overall design of the previous one, albeit with subtle alterations. And yet there’s a serious change afoot here, hiding beneath a vehicle that has, actually, grown a little.
Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a €5 billion plan to set the table for more palatable electric vehicles — including hybrids — and boost capacity utilization at its Italian facilities. Roughly one fifth of that total will go toward the launch of a compact crossover from Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s upcoming Panda hybrid.
Numerous Italian trade unions (AQCF, FIM, FISMIC, UGLM, and UILM), after speaking with the manufacturer, have confirmed the Pomigliano plant will undergo some retooling in preparation for the new models. Meanwhile, FCA confirmed the cost to Reuters — stipulating that the total investment for the two models would be “closer to 1 billion than 500 million euros.”
The model that helped relaunch a long-departed brand — a brand which subsequently failed to clear the tower — is effectively dead in North America. Fiat Chrysler has taken the retro-themed, pint-sized Fiat 500 off life support, removing it from the brand’s North American offerings for 2020.
The newly turbocharged 500, its beefier Abarth brother, and the eco-warrior 500e electric, were victims of America’s unrelenting desire for large, spacious automobiles. The illness took hold almost as soon as the 500 arrived.
Fiat Chrysler will invest $788 million to build a production line for the new 500 electric, according to the company’s European CFO Pietro Gorlier. An extension of automaker’s plan to to dump 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) into Italy, the deal makes good on earlier promises that the automaker would establish a dedicated small battery-electric vehicle platform.
We’ve just been informed that our 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth has 180-180-180-20 compression and likely needs a new engine. Options are somewhat clouded by a remaining note of about $6,000.
Looks like this boils down to:
- Get out, despite the sunk costs and remaining note, and get into a
more conventional car.
- Go the used engine route to save a few $$.
- Source a new engine and commit for ~5/6 years +
The SU (spousal unit) is the primary driver and adores the car. I drive it infrequently and find it tedious. It has about 80,000 miles and has been OK on other maintenance issues. All work will be done by a pro – this is so far over my head, mechanically, that there’s just no way – and the car is a daily driver, so commute/mobility issues create additional urgency.
Following reports that the Fiat 500 would see the inclusion of a new all-electric powertrain in 2020, Fiat Chrysler has confirmed the model will actually become a dedicated EV — foregoing internal combustion entirely.
While the vehicle’s overall dimensions are to be retained, FCA chief marketing officer Olivier François said the small car would place additional emphasis on attainable urban luxury and electrification.
“Premium is the way we will go with the EV 500,” he told AutoExpress in a recent interview. “A new 500, totally renewed. A new object. Totally electric. It’s kind of an urban Tesla, with beautiful style. Italianess, dolce vita in an electric car. It’s the polar opposite of Centoventi.”
Anyone else fondly recall Sport Compact Car magazine? For over two decades, that dead-tree, updated-monthly blog brought the latest in import performance trends to newsstands and mailboxes. I know that I waited for my copy impatiently, just knowing that this month would be the one where I found the perfect stuff with which I could poorly modify my ancient Accord.
Each issue brought forth little cars with tons of character, but after a while a theme was established — big wheels, big exhaust tips, and a lowered suspension with little compliance became the standard. With the dying of that great magazine, and the de-evolution of the Fast and Furious franchise away from accessible cars, the tuner culture seems to have drifted away from mainstream consciousness.
There aren’t many new truly compact cars that invite this sort of tuning, let alone those that come so equipped from the factory. The 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth is a throwback to those days — days where a loud exhaust and a booming stereo meant fun on Saturday night.
Faced with a tough market, what’s an automaker to do when trying to make noise in a crowded arena? Introduce a special edition, of course.
Fiat’s done just that with its 2018 Fiat 500 Banana Cabana Urbana Edition. The company is dropping this version of the 500 at this week’s New York Auto Show.
We explored the Fiat brand’s troubles earlier this week, then put you in the driver’s seat and asked what you’d like to see done about it. Well, there’s no red telephone linking our comments section with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles HQ, so suffice it to say many of your suggestions probably fell on deaf ears up in Auburn Hills.
However, Fiat does have a plan to stimulate some renewed interest in its flagging 500 city car, but it’s not through a shocking redesign or by positioning the tiny vehicle as a trail-conquering off-roader. Up until now, non-Abarth 500s have, to put it mildly, underwhelmed from a performance standpoint. Double-digit torque figures are a rarity these days, but they’ve just become rarer.
The Downward Spiral wasn’t just a groundbreaking Nine Inch Nails album — it also aptly describes Fiat’s current sales trajectory in North America. (Sorry for the headline, Corey.)
With January 2018 figures out of the bag, the state of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Fiat brand becomes ever clearer, though we’ve known it was in trouble for some time. Reintroduced in this market in early 2011, the four-model brand continued its downhill sales slide last month, with corporate cousin Alfa Romeo outselling it for the second consecutive month.
How bad is it?
Fun, when it comes to cars, manifests itself in different ways. The Fiat 500 Abarth represents one of those ways, in theory – extra power in a small car, plus the right suspension tuning, should result in a quick, nimble hatchback.
Not content with that recipe, Fiat also made the Abarth version of its 500 city car into a brash, loud machine that doesn’t go anywhere in subtlety.
That last bit isn’t an exaggeration. Like or not, the Abarth’s exhaust is set at a volume that’s not normally seen (heard?) in this class.
Nearly one-third of the workforce at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, was laid off last week because of poor Fiat 500L demand.
In the United States, the 500L is by no means the only Fiat that isn’t selling.
Besides the 500L’s sharp U.S. sales decline — year-over-year volume has tumbled each month in the last nine months — the core 500 model which brought Fiat back to life in the U.S. has lost nearly half its volume this year, a 6,288-unit loss through only five months.
Meanwhile, the expectation that a crossover could make up for the poorly received 500L and rapidly aging 500 turned out to be false. A crossover, yes, that will be the ticket. Surely a crossover could work wonders. A relative of the Jeep Renegade, only prettier, could definitely restore Fiat to the peak glory days of 2014.
Glory days, when with two models in its lineup, Fiat USA failed to match its stated goal of 50,000 annual sales for the 500 alone? Of course, that Sergio Marchionne sales forecast was way off target.
Just as the 500L and 500X have missed the mark, as well.
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