USA, Fiat 500’s largest market

Fiat 500 in Times Square The year 2012 is over and car sales data arrives from every market. While I prepare the whole year analysis for every market, there is one fact I wanted to share with you as I believe is relevant for Fiat. Last year it was not Italy the largest market for the small Fiat 500. 55 years after its introduction the name plate got its best sales outside its native country. For the very first time USA became the largest market for a Fiat model in history. It happened only 22 months after its introduction in that market and tells a lot of what is happening in USA and Europe nowadays. The difference is to short, but not the fact, as a popular Fiat (the same model that made of Italy an industrialized country after WWII) is now more popular in a market where small cars have been historically unpopular, than in Italy, the homeland of small European cars. According to official data, last year 43.772 Fiat 500 were sold in USA against 43.007 units delivered in Italy (both results include Abarth and Cabrio versions). It means that small Fiat had a spectacular growth in sales of 121% in USA and a drop in Italy of 28%. Of course when the analysis is made in terms of market share the situation is really different. Besides the same model is living two different moments in both sides of the Atlantic ocean. The 500 is still enjoying of its introduction phase in which many Americans begin to hear about it as a new car. In Italy the same model has been on the market since 2007 and it is now facing the decline phase waiting for a deep facelift.

765 units separate Italy from USA in the ranking of Fiat 500 sales by country. Notice how stable were sales of the 500 in USA at around 3.500-4.000 units/month. The opposite in Italy where the small car reached 6.000 units in May to fall to 1.600 units 3 months later. Source: Good Car Bad Car, UNRAE

765 units separate Italy from USA in the ranking of Fiat 500 sales by country. Notice how stable were sales of the 500 in USA at around 3.500-4.000 units/month. The opposite in Italy where the small car reached 6.000 units in May to fall to 1.600 units 3 months later. Source: Good Car Bad Car, UNRAE

However it is also important to consider the economic situation of both countries. US car industry is recovering slowly and last year it reached pre-crisis sales figures. Italy is facing one of the worst economic crisis in decades and its car industry is  going back to the 70’s levels. Italians don’t buy cars as they used to, and those with higher prices (the 500 included) are suffering the consequences. What’s next? the small 500 seems to have reached its top in terms of sales volume in USA at around 4 thousand units/month, so in 2013 the Fiat could reach 50-55.000 units if Fiat continues to promote it as it has done so far. In Italy analysts expect a similar year but personally I think the situation will get worse in the first half of the year. This forecast and the fact that the 500 won’t have a clear successor this year, make me believe  that the small Fiat will barely reach 40.000 units this year in Italy. Anyway the Fiat 500 is a great product that has demonstrated that wherever it is introduced it becomes a referent in the segment. Good for Fiat USA.

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17 responses to “USA, Fiat 500’s largest market

  1. The correct comparison is USA vs UE (and not Italy).
    50 States vs 27 (+3 Efta)

  2. non penso che, nonostante le consegne siano iniziate nel lontano settembre 2007, la 500 stia soffrendo l’anzianità. La seconda generazione della Panda (nata nel 2003) ha raggiunto il massimo delle vendite nel 2009, dopo 6 anni suonati sul mercato… la 500 nel 2012 ha sofferto più della media del mercato italiano semplicemente perché nelle condizioni disperanti in cui esso si trova, tra le piccole, è comunque considerata abbastanza costosa. Poi, certamente, nuova non è e avrà entro qualche anno bisogno di un erede ma non credo che abbia particolari problemi ad affrontare il 2013 né in Italia né in Europa. Il problema principale è la mancanza di denaro da parte dei possibili acquirenti. Tra l’altro, avendo avuto i lanci europeo e nordamericano così distanti tra loro sarà difficile stabilire quando sostituirla senza fare un torto a nessuno. In ogni caso la sua condizione non è minimamente paragonabile a quella di un modello ancora buono ma che è in caduta libera come la Punto; essa sì, bisognosissima di un’erede al più presto.

    • Sono d’accordo con te. La 500 fa ancora benissimo e il risultato in Italia si da per le condizioni difficili dei clienti e anche perché è un modello più costoso della maggior parte dei modelli del segmento A. Comunque Fiat non dovrebbe aspettare fino quando sia troppo tardi per avere un bel successore, come succede adesso con la Punto, un ottimo prodotto ma che non merita muorire così.

  3. Agreed. The 500 needs to be facelifted ASAP. They should not wait until the sales start to slide. Also an all new model should be on the drawing board. No doubt it’s going to be a very tough car to replace, therefore I think it’s best to avoid a radical redesign. Evolution rather than revolution.

    • already on paper and should come 5 doors version..there are no big change..hope for the giardinetta version!
      If is coming with 5 doors means 5 seats and this means the end of ypsilon sales.
      They should think the next model of ypsilon like the old swift..4×4 as well.
      Really good job juan!Mucha suerte!

      • Gracias ‘Ardit’
        I think a 5 door version of the 500 is already developed and is called the 500L. Though it is a small MPV the soul of regular 500 is to be 3 door. As you said the 5 door version is the Ypsilon.

    • Steve you got right!absolutely right!
      For sure they are looking at the bad sales of lancia in europe.I hope they are thinking about solutions..and solutions can be lots..and i don’t get it why they left the good project of the next suzuki SUV! Perfect for Lancia/Chrysler europe!
      Juan..yes,5 door version is the ypsilon..but don’t sell out of italy!And future will bring us 5 door mini..so predictable a 5 door 500 or at least a giardiniera!
      I think the ypsilon and 500 are similar..too much similar..
      Hope the next ypsilon will have a different position..with the 4×4 traction possibly..like the swift 2004-2010..sold under the brand name of Chrysler around europe has more chance to fuck the market
      Buonagiornata a tutti!

  4. The results of the 500 in Italy are still very good, just look at the market share and its number 1in the A-segment. Considering the trouble this market is going through in guess the 500 is still very vital thanks to new versions. Changing the whole model can only be a good decision when the market starts to be stable again, so not earlier then 2014. The only interesting comparison would be the 500 in US vs EU. Growth vs Crisis. The EU (not Europe) is a single market like the US is, if you know what I mean.

    • Yes, I understand your point. The 500 continues to be really popular and last year was Italy’s second best-seller minicar after the Panda. Yes, Fiat can wait for more to change it but they should not wait to long so its sales begin to fall. And the comparison between Italy and USA was because Italy has been the traditional market of Fiat, and was shocking to see that the popular 500 was even more popular in USA than there.

  5. Pingback: Italy 2012 Full Year Analysis | Fiat Group's World·

  6. “USA, Fiat 500’s largest market | Fiat Group’s
    World” honestly makes me think a tiny bit further. I really enjoyed every individual part of it.

    I appreciate it -Herman

  7. Pingback: Fiat 500 2012 Full Year Analysis | Fiat Group's World·

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