It is not yet official but Fiat is the next brand that will abandon the MPV segment in Europe. The Fiat 500L, which sits in the B-MPV segment, is set to change of shape to become a B-SUV, just as Citroen did with the C3 Picasso and the new C3 Aircross, or Opel did with the Meriva and the new Crossland X. The strong SUV demand is forcing all makers in Europe to focus their efforts on this kind of vehicles, leaving fewer investment and marketing attention to the traditional segments.
Fiat has already a B-SUV in its range. The 500X was born to give Fiat access to this booming segment, while enlarging the success of the little 500. This car was launched in January 2015 to rival the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Opel Mokka. It had a pretty good start with monthly registrations of 8.000 units during its first year. As expected, it is Italy’s best-selling SUV, and along with the Jeep Renegade, it revived FCA’s plant in Melfi. The 500X is even exported to North America.
But soon things didn’t go as well as planned. As it usually happens to most of all of FCA cars, the 500X registrations started to fall faster than expected. Through August, its registrations in Europe fell by 15%, while overall market’s volume increased by 15%. In contrast, the Mokka, 2008, Duster and Ecosport posted growth, and the Toyota C-HR has already outsold the 500X by more than 15.000 units. Not even the Juke, which is one of the oldest of the segment, is recording such a big drop, with volume down by 6%. The Fiat 500X clearly needs a restyling to re boost its sales.
However, after the arrival of the Toyota C-HR and Volkswagen T-Roc, it is clear that the B-SUV segment is being split into two groups. The fancy, big (more than 4300mm) and more expensive ones, and the entry-level, frugal and smaller ones like the Crossland and C3 Aircross. Opel was the first to anticipate this split with the Crossland and Mokka, while other makers like Renault, Ford and Volkswagen are already working on a second B-SUV. Fiat is the latest brand to make part of this trend with a the new functional B-SUV, which is set to replace the 500L within the next 2 years.
As the 500L, the new B-SUV from Fiat will be made in Serbia, and this will allow FCA to make use of the lower labor costs in order to propose a very competitive car in terms of price. Following the same case of the Turkish made Tipo, the functional B-SUV will attack the segment from below leaving the top to the 500X, which is expected to become more refined when it will get its first facelift. In this way, FCA could kill two birds with one stone, by increasing the production levels at Kragujevac factory and enlarging its offer in the popular B-SUV segment.
There is nothing functional about an SUV. 😦
As always good articles… what I would suggest is a research into the causes of quick sales declines for FIAT models. While it is not to my taste the 500X has nothing particularly wrong to it, that would justfiy a sale drop.
Thank you Marco. The usual sales trend for FCA models is a topic to be analyzed in my future articles.
What about the lack of a small turbo engine – like a 3 cil turobo 1.0?
Oh, Felipe, Felipe. You really like to miss the target.
Do you really think that newly facelifted car will be replaced in less than two years from the facelift introduction?
Fiat’s growth in the coming years can only be achieved with another SUV. The Tipo’s increasing demand won’t last forever. The 500L is not the 500.
Growth in numbers or growth in profits. Volume is easy to achieve. Just put out new B-segment hatch.
BTW. 500X only recently got its first direct competitor. VW T-Roc.
But. Marchionne is in search of margins. I’m not convinced that X6H or X6U for Europe will help a lot.
They could make picture more rosy so that market analyst with orthodox approach could be happy.
Basically I want to say that currently the most important launch in Europe is a new Jeep Compass. And maybe a Jeep Cherokee facelift which will start production on 2nd of January 2018. Also all new Wrangler (start of production next month, for Europa in February) and Jeep Scrambler pick-up are coming.
Personally-speaking I like the present look of the Fiat 500X! I like FCA products, but I only wish production lines would last longer, i.e., the Dodge Dart/Chrysler 200 in the US market? I like the Fiat Tipo and I wish FCA USA, LLC would bring a new, 3rd. generation Dodge Neon like the current Neon of Mexico and the Middle East? Marchionne knows about exuberant capital expenditures like those spent on the development of the Dodge Dart! SUVs are the profit makers, and C-segment sedans unfortunately aren’t! By the way Mr. Marchionne I love my Dodge Dart as, in my opinion, it is a well engineered auto! The Dodge Neon has a base and FCA can certainly rejuvenate it’s C-SEGMENT entry here in the USA!
Will be hard to rejuvenate it , cause sedans sales are plunging . Unfortunately but fact
There is space for this type of SUV in the FCA range as the Renegade is very styled towards a true 4×4, the 500X is the trendy style, so a Panda XL would make a good addition to the range.
In fact I still think FIAT should be looking at a twin range of cars, chic and practical.
500 – hatch and cabrio
600 – new car based off Argo platform 5dr hatch with 500 styling and a ‘wagon model’ 600G
600X – rename for 500X
Panda Uno – new small car, with SUV looks
Panda – replacement car, practical look, and cheaper than 500, with min SUV looks
Panda XL – new SUV model as described above.
I would also move the Argo and Tipo out of the FIAT range, moving them to either Dodge or Chrysler.
A few very good ideas , but the Argo and Tipo should stay under FIAT brand for the simple reason that Dodge and Chrysler are not currently sold in ( Europe where is the primary market for Tipo ) and in ( Brazil where is the primary market for Argo )
I think they will be building the new “Punto” instead.
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