Fiat has announced it is ending production of the 500 model for the North American market, in a move that was fairly predictable. The company has struggled mightily on this continent in recent years, with sales plummeting catastrophically the last two years. Many point to the many reliability issues that have dogged the brand’s products, serious enough to send even the toughest public relations wizards into therapy.
How bad is the picture for Fiat? Last year, the brand saw sales fall off by 44% in the United States. In the first half of 2019, the drop has been 38%. If there’s a panic button anywhere at Fiat HQ, chances are someone has pushed it by now.
And so the 500 leaves us after a dozen years on the market. Ironically, it was the company’s top-selling model in the U.S. last year, accounting for 35% of Fiat sales in that market.
The situation is no rosier for Fiat in Canada. Over the first six months of 2019, the company sold all of 80 units of the Fiat 500 here, a drop of 56.3% compared to the same period in 2018. As for the 500X SUV, it sold only 27 units, for a drop of 42.6%. The 500L sold just 12 units this year to date – which actually represents a 20% increase over 2018, since Fiat sold only 10 units of the model in the first half of 2018..
At the top of this underwhelming heap sits the Fiat 124 Spider, which attracted 124 (yes, 124) buyers in Canada in the first six months of 2019 in Canada. In its case, we already know it likely won’t be renewed alongside its close cousin the Mazda MX-5.
So now the speculation begins as to which model will be the next to get the ax.
If we were betting types, we’d wager on the 500L, mainly because the 500X has just received a new engine and it’s unlikely the company will throw in the towel on that model at this stage.
Another possibility, and not a remote one, is that FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) might just decide to sweep under the rug all of the Fiat models in one swoop.