Death of a clown…car.
Fiat’s tiny 500 (Cinquecento in Italian), was introduced in the United States in 2011 having its best sales year in 2012. At that time it sold nearly 50,000 units in North America combined. In 2018 – less than 6,000 combined. Other small cars, like the Smart Fortwo, Scion iQ and original “new” Mini Cooper have either grown up or been eliminated altogether.
There were a variety of Fiat 500 models to choose from. There was the base models, the Fiat 500c which was a slick partial convertible roof, the Fiat 500E EV and the stupid-fun Fiat 500 Abarth. Seriously, every single Fiat 500 variant was a kick to drive with the Fiat 500 Abarth being laugh-inducing fun each time you accelerate.
What went wrong?
Over the past few years, Fiat has upgraded their powertrains, updated some components and beefed up some electronics, but nothing new has been offered on that platform. Americans quickly fell out of love with the 500 as it never offered enough space. It was tiny inside, especially in the back seat. While it was a little utilitarian as a hatchback, the convertible had a tiny trunk that some complained about.
It was never a real bargain either. Currently, a base Fiat 500 is $16,495. While you do get a nicely equipped, quick little car for the money – it’s not the least expensive. A brand new Nissan Versa which is much larger, more efficient and gives you a lot more for the money starts at $14,730. Fiat never pushed to be a value leader – and they should have.
I guess that rumored next generation Fiat 500e isn’t coming here.
All in all, its small size was not very appealing to crossover-loving Americans. Also it was a Fiat, which meant (to many) an unreliable car. The old reputation was hard to shake. This wasn’t helped by Fiat and FCA falling to the bottom of many reliability Ironically, the Fiat 500 is one of Fiat USA’s more reliable cars – especially compared to the Fiat 500L.
The bottom line
So, Fiat will no longer offer the current generation Fiat 500 in the North American market after 2020. Oddly, the most adorable ride of the Fiat brand never got a serious update, which ultimately contributed to its downfall.
Rather than give us something to replace it, Fiat will give us the same vehicles currently offered. This includes the not-too-shabby Fiat 500X (which you can get with front-wheel drive and a stick along with all-wheel drive and a 9-speed auto). Also, the unloved Fiat 500L and the Mazda MX-5-based Fiat 124.
Nope, not even the slick little Fiat 500 Abarth escapes the cut, and that’s a shame.
Here’s Fiat’s statement, “FIAT will discontinue production of the current-generation Fiat 500 and 500e in North America. Current inventory of the 2019 Fiat 500 and 500e will last into 2020. In North America, FIAT will continue to offer the new Italian-designed, fun-to-drive Fiat 500X all-wheel-drive compact crossover, the Fiat 124 Spider roadster and the five-passenger Fiat 500L utility vehicle.”
Addio Fiat 500.