Not exactly the news we want to hear.
What do American car buyers like? The answer is simple: large SUVs and trucks. Fiat doesn't offer either in the US, which has created a major problem for the Italian brand. Since Fiat's return to the US back in 2011, the brand has let its lineup become stale and sales have been plummeting.
FCA, fortunately, has been able to lean back on strong sales from the Jeep and Ram brands to make up for the lack of Fiat brand sales. But the Italian automaker has a plan to turn around the fortunes of its core brand, starting with an all-new, all-electric version of the Fiat 500. According to Autocar, Fiat is currently planning a five-model renewal plan for Europe, and if the company expects to remain viable in the US, some of that new product needs to make its way Stateside.
The plan is centered around all-new 500 and Panda models, the former of which is expected to arrive mid-2020 as an all-electric model. It makes sense for Fiat to focus on its two best-selling models in Europe, but SUVs will be important if the company wants to have a future in the US market. Along with the 500 and Panda, Fiat is also expected to reveal a new 500 Giardiniera wagon and successors to the current 500X and Tipo, the latter of which is expected to be also replaced by an SUV.
"Fiat has a double mission. Urban mobility is core today, but at the same time, it means family transportation. In southern Europe, this is especially true," said Fiat CEO Olivier Francois. This, hopefully, means Fiat will continue to sell fun city cars while also realize there is a market for more practical family vehicles. Unfortunately, Francois also talked about Fiat's future position on sports cars.
The 124 hasn't been a success for Fiat, so much so that it was discontinued in the UK after just two years on sale. "For our future product plan, we need the right balance between the two dimensions: the Fiat 500 family and family transportation. There will be no big cars, no premium cars, no sporty cars because they have no legitimacy," said Francois. "We will be present in the C-segment [the Ford Focus class] but not much more. All models will sit within 3.5m and 4.5m. This is where Fiat will play. We need more EVs. And we need more 500 models that look legitimate enough to take higher pricing."
With the move to an all-electric 500, we were already wondering where this would leave the sporty 500 Abarth, which is one of the best-sounding small cars on the market. As Fiat plans to reinvigorate sales, we may start to see fun cars like the 500 Abarth and 124 Spider disappear.