If Fiat Can't Improve Lineup It May Have To Leave The US


No one wants to buy Fiats because they prefer Jeeps.

Fiat is desperate to get US customers into its showrooms. The brand has been struggling to sell its quirky small models to Americans who are used to buying larger vehicles. Fiat has consolidated trim levels and lowered prices, but the brand still suffers from poor reliability ratings. If FCA can't get the sales rolling, it could end up on its way out of the US. So how have Fiat's changes impacted sales? According to Fiat500USA, 500 sales were up 18 percent in November compared to the same month last year, the second month in a row with a sales gain over last year.

Unfortunately, increased sales of the 500 did not offset slow sales of the 500X and 500L models. In November, Fiat sold 2,415 cars, which is down 15 percent compared to last November. So far this year, Fiat has sold 30,136 cars compared to the 37,303 in 2015, which is a 19 percent decrease. We have criticized Fiat in the past for having a lineup which basically consisted of three versions of one model, but the new 124 Spider seems like the lone bright spot, although that car is built by Mazda. What makes Fiat's sales woes even more interesting is that consumers are actually buying Fiat models, but only those that are badged as Jeeps. The Jeep Renegade is built on the same platform as the 500X, but has much stronger sales.

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So far this year, Jeep has sold 94,561 Renegades compared to Fiat which has only sold 10,868 500Xs. This may be because there are over 2,000 Jeep dealerships in the US compared to around 200 Fiat showrooms, so perhaps the cars aren't the only problem. On top of that, Fiat dealerships are pretty scattered around the country and some are barely staffed. We took a trip to a local Fiat showroom which sells Fiats and Alfa Romeos adjacent to the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealership, and all of the sales people seemed far more concerned with helping customers in the main dealership. Bottom line: Fiat is really struggling, but perhaps the brand can turn things around.

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