It’s no secret the Fiat 124 Spider would never have come into existence were it not for a collaborative partnership with Japanese manufacturer Mazda. The Italian roadster shares the same structure as the Mazda MX-5, and it was born out of an agreement between the two automakers that allowed for its use.
It may be a bastard child of the company, but the model is actually profitable, according to Fiat boss Olivier François, who told Autocar magazine that “it makes money and it adds a certain cool factor.” But he cautioned that he doesn’t see Fiat as being a legitimate inhabitant of that car’s segment, adding that:
“… such a car may not be key to the future of the brand. It is not what I'd call a pure, absolute Fiat, but for now, it remains an interesting opportunity."
- Olivier François, Fiat
When the boss expresses such lukewarm support for a company’s model, it’s only natural to assume the survival of the model is on shaky ground – even if the 124 Spider does sport a very Italian design and has a number of Italian inner components.
It would be surprising to see Fiat jettison a profitable model in the short term. But in the longer run, its prospects are unclear, especially since in the United States, sales of the model fell by 21% last year; the company sold 3515 units in that market. That’s fairly drastic, but it looks better when you compare it to the horrid 55% drop in sales overall for Fiat.
In Canada, meanwhile, the 124 Spider is the top-selling model for Fiat since the beginning of this year.