2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

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2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by rridge » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:57 am

Looks like both regular and Abarth versions are going away. 500X and 500L will carry on another year or two. The 124 will continue. Seems like just a few years ago that Laura Soava handed over the keys of the first new 500 to Shaun Folkerts as a few classic Fiat owners looked on in Gaithersburg MD but it was actually March 2011.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by friedman » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:30 am

Why is it corporations can't make solid decisions? Clearly a Fiat dealership cannot be sustained by selling little SUVs no one knows about and nice sports cars that very few folks would buy. The hand writing on the wall (where did that phrase come from?) indicates you just close up shop and make your money selling high volume cars like Alfas and Maseratis.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by bartigue » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:27 am

Wasn't Laura concurrently terminated? As I recall the product launch was like watching a slow motion train wreck. The dealer network hardly existed and most people didn't have a fond memory of FIAT. Marketing was key here...actually not even real deep marketing, just simple market research - the kind one can do with google and a cup of coffee - would have given some clues as to reviving a brand in America; two examples:

Mini: BMW had re-launched mini - a brand few in America remembered - and convinced people they did, in fact, remember these cars and wanted them. How many people remember seeing the horrible, classic Mini in this country years ago? That's right, no one. But now they're all over the place, all because of marketing.

Audi: Audi had somehow limped along for a decade with a significant reputation problem and managed to completely redefine their brand with the A4 through marketing to aspects of the car appealing to America (anyone remember the "big honkin' trunk ads?"). You couldn't give away an Audi 5000 after the (disproved) acceleration issue, but marketing (and a really good car, the original A4) revived an entire brand.

Maserati: This company - part of the FCA - managed to convince people that they used to make good cars and people wanted to have them. I really think it is amazing that these cars sell as well as they do given the tendency they had to catch fire in the 1980s. Certainly a niche car but it's doing well.

Who is the market for the 500? I don't think they ever defined it. FIAT makes so many really good cars...I never understand why we, once again, don't get most of them.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by friedman » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:12 pm

Hyundai/ Kia seemed to have figured out marketing, starting from nothing and now a major player with excellent products.
It's hard to figure out why Mini is such a strong seller and Fiat 500 is not.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by rridge » Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:41 pm

Apparently Mini sales are dropping also. Must be the marketing.
http://www.motoringfile.com/2016/07/27/ ... -dropping/
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by davedecker4 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:36 pm

A decade on may mean no longer being the cool new thing.
But gas prices are low and everybody wants an suv or some type of pickup.
I bought a pickup a little over five years ago or so for 1500 bucks that I could probably sell for 3 times that now. Its not a classic, just a used pickup. A friend of mine was talking about getting a deal on a new pu for only $60k. I think half that is the edge of sanity for a pickup. Another friend got his wife a small Jeep to replace her little hatchback. The worst terrain its seen is a gravel driveway. I'm not even sure if it has 4wd. Jeeps are the cool new thing now it seems.

To me trucks are for working and getting stuff done, cars are for driving.
SUV's are for commuting the whole family across dirt roads I guess.
Clearly not everybody agrees.

I hope they do not really pull the plug on the 500 in the US. Its easier to expand something that is even at a trickle. Its much harder to recreate something that has been totally killed off. At some point tastes will change. Even sooner gas prices could rise if events trigger it. Its better to be ready with something you can easily expand (like Honda or Toyota have done at times), than to be caught flat-footed with nothing that really fits the bill so that you have to try to go out and buy another company that already has something economical ala GM. Then look to sell or shut down same when gas prices rise for awhile.

You could probably sell a few Jeeps to finance the redesign and small engine tech in the interim...

Hoping my fleet 10yrs from now could contain a 500 Twin Air Turbo hybrid with Abarth suspension for commuting, an Alfa Maserati or even (dare I dream) Lancia version of the Guilia (preferably with a stick, even if its only available on the base engine), and best of all a Lancia version of the 4C with more refined sheet metal and available with a real stick shift. Life complete I could spend my time decorating a new larger garage.
Oh and the same old truck for towing
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by friedman » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:58 pm

There is something about SUVs that thrills folks. Even the ads on TV show people driving off road to a lake or up a mountain when in reality they are just going to use it to go to the food store.

I remember back when minivans were the rage and the Isuzu Trooper II showed up on the scene and took the DC area by storm. They were rather crude but everyone had to have one. The rest, as they say, was history. I don't think I have ever been on a road that required four wheel drive and for real off road we all used dirt bikes. Most people today use SUVs in the same manner my generation used minivans.

Anyone out there old enough to remember TV ads for the Jeep CJ with the guy driving it up tall mountain pastures in serious off road scenarios?

In any event, I don't think Fiat is thought of as a go to company in that automotive sales environment. I guess the 500 is the right answer for other countries that have expensive gas.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by rridge » Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:10 pm

I saw a fair number of 500's parked at the curb on city streets in Stockholm recently. There are not too many cars that can fit in a 12 ft. parking space and show some personal style. How many cars offer a choice of fourteen exterior colors? When you buy a 500 there is no reason to worry that you will see another just like in it the airport long term lot.

In U.S. spec the 500 gets 28 mpg city, 33 highway, about the same as your GTI. If fuel cost is your main reason for buying there are better, cheaper choices. MultiAir valve actuation never lived up to its billing.

FWD and AWD vehicles are put to the test throughout the DC area every time it snows. No need to shovel the drive or wait two days for the streets to be plowed. Unfortunately that means a lot of people who know nothing about actually driving in winter conditions now manage to get out on local highways when both we and they would be a lot safer if they were still stuck at home. Fortunately the low ground clearance of most AWD offerings means that they can't quite climb the curb and roll across my lawn the way serious FWDrivers occasionally do.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by friedman » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:30 am

I wondered why you had some vintage WWII tank traps set up along your curb.

As to colors, everyone in the US buys their cars in black, silver or white....we are very boring.
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Re: 2019 the last year for the Fiat 500 in the U.S.

Post by bartigue » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:08 am

rridge wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:41 pm
Apparently Mini sales are dropping also. Must be the marketing.
http://www.motoringfile.com/2016/07/27/ ... -dropping/
Citing an article from 2016?

In 2019 (this year) small cars are niche items in the United States. There is a general decline in small car sales, to the extent that if you measure sales relative to the general decline you can determine relative success. For FIAT, sales of cars across the multiple brands are down, sales of non-cars (Jeeps, Trucks, etc.) are up a lot - Ram trucks alone are up 37% (2018). The 500's decline is well below the general decline; the mini decline is aligned to the general decline.
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