Fiat in trouble. VW Up! hits the market

Fiat is in trouble, big trouble. It is not only a matter of its home market, Italy, or the delay in plans for new products. The problems with its factories and Fabbrica Italia are just some more to the latest one. What used to be the main strength of the group is now being hit hard by Europe’s largest car maker. VW is having great results with its trio Up!/Mii/Citigo and it means that Fiat is feeling the success of the Slovaks with less sales figures for its couple 500/Panda. Last month is the best example as sales figures for the Italian couple drop while the VW trio seems not to feel the crisis. As I have done it during the last months, the analysis takes into account the sales figures for Fiat 500 and Panda vs. the trio together, Up!, Mii and Citigo, as they are the same car. The analysis includes the countries where there is data available every month: the largest markets, Germany, France, Italy and Spain (except the UK) plus Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Romania and Greece. 16 countries that can tell a lot about sales trend of these small cars. Due to lack of data important markets as the UK, Belgium and Portugal are out of the monthly analysis. Nevertheless even though the UK is not included (is the second largest market for the 500 in Europe), the results for August indicate that Fiat should be worrying a lot.

Though Fiat invested 800 million euros in the plant of Pomigliano for the production of the new Panda, the small car continues to lead the ‘A-Segment’ but far away from initial forecast. Photo by:

In August 2012 the trio sold 12.041 cars*, which means more than double of Fiat 500’s registrations and almost 4.000 units above the Fiat Panda, the historical leader. This trend was evident in July when the Up!/Mii/Citigo was just 51 units behind the Panda. But last month sales figures dropped for the Italian couple while the Slovak trio did not experience it that way. Compared to July figures, the 500 was the most affected one, down a massive 40%. Then comes the Panda, down 37% and finally the trio from VW Group, down only 9%. The results are really bad for Fiat specially if it is considered the fact that both models represent more than half of the brand sales in Europe and now the Punto is becoming a rare model to see in the top best-selling cars outside Italy. It is also even more complicated taking into account that the Panda is an all new model with no more than 10 months old, and the investment required for it was around 800 million euros. At this point is when Marchionne says that there is not enough market for new models, specially if that market is being conquered by VW in all segments. In the other hand there are some people who say that there is no such cataclysm and August bad results for the small couple are just punctual. Some how that position is right.

The new versions of the 500 may be helping but after 5 years in the market the small Fiat should be thinking of a successor

Last month’s results can be explained from several points of view. First of all August has been always a month of small numbers all over Europe as people go out for vacations. Second, European car market is certainly passing thru perhaps the most difficult times in decades. And third, Italian market is becoming one of the worst in terms of sales fall. Just in August the market was down 20%, which is the biggest fall among big European markets. For example, in August/11 almost 1.800 Fiat 500 were sold in Italy, and one year later 1.700 were sold (down only 4%) so at the end the bad result for the 500 could be explained as a ‘seasonable’ thing, more than really bad results. The same situation for the Panda and Italy: one year ago 4.532 units were sold against 5.011 last month. Of course, if those numbers are compared to July ones, the conclusion would be completely different. What happens in Italy every August does not happen that much in other European markets. Germany for example saw its total car sales to fall 5%, year-on-year, but at the end the total number is not far from previous months. So it is important to consider what happens in main markets for the models analyzed. As the 500 and specially the Panda depends a lot on Italian market, their total sales figures for Europe will be strongly affected by the Italian result. In the other hand the Up! depends a lot on German market (42%) but that market does not collapse in August.

This figure shows the main 3 markets for each model. The left number indicates the market share of that market on model’s total sales. The right number indicates the market share of the model in that market. It means Italy represents 31% of Fiat 500 sales in Europe, while that model has 3% of Italian market sales. Fiat Panda sales figures include the second generation numbers. VW Up! sales figures include Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii numbers. Source:

But if Italy and Germany are not considered, certainly VW is winning the match. The trio sold more than 2.000 units in small markets as Denmark or Netherlands, while they sold some more in France, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. Fiat did well in Germany and the Netherlands with the 500, while the Panda did not do bad in Austria and Denmark. French sales figures for the Italian couple are really bad and it contributes to less numbers, as traditionally France has been an important market for both models. The good markets for ‘A-segment’ cars are now being conquered by VW. It means Denmark and the Netherlands, where this kind of cars is very popular (because of high taxes to all cars). Other important markets (in terms of units sold and not in terms of  ‘A-Segment’  market share) such as Spain and France, Fiat still dominates the battle. Year-to-date numbers show that the Slovak trio surpasses for the very first time the Fiat 500 with 2.300 units. If the three models were considered as a unique model, the 500 would not be anymore the second best-selling ‘A-segment’ car in Europe. The Panda is still the best-selling small car but initial forecast and the capacity of Pomigliano plant are far away from current results.


*Not included Mii and Citigo Italian sales numbers



Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! September 2012

Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! July 2012

VW Up! threatens Fiat Panda’s leadership

If June was a bad month for the couple Fiat Panda-500, July was even worse. If it is considered sales figures of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, during las month 13.272 Pandas were sold, just 51 units above the sum of Up!, Citigo and Mii. It is the first time the German trio reaches that great result and now it is not only more popular than Fiat 500 but it seems it will beat Fiat Panda and maybe dethrone it in the next months. It is important to mention that in this monthly analysis it is being considered 3 models with 3 and 5 door versions for the VW/Skoda/Seat against one single model of Fiat 500 with only 3 doors option and the two latest generations of Fiat Panda, only available with 5 door body.  Anyway, the Panda has been always Europe’s best selling A-Segment car but it has had a tough time not only in its native Italy, where it dropped 17.5% compared to June figures, but also in all other countries except for Romania and Slovakia. The small Fiat fell 25% compared to June figures, much more than Fiat 500, down 16%, while the Germans are up 7%. The 500 is down everywhere in Europe except for Austria, up 17%, Denmark, up 3%, and Poland, up 68%.

In July the Up!/Citigo/Mii are more popular in Austria, Czech Rep., Germany, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. They had a record sales in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland. The situation for Fiat is really bad as two important things must be analyzed: first of all, it was July, a historical bad month for car sales everywhere in Europe, and Fiat models dropped but the VWs were up. And the second one is that the product with the deepest fall was the Panda, an all-new product on sale since January. Year-to-date records show that the Panda commands with a big difference but the 500 will be soon replaced as the second best selling A-Segment car by the German trio. If Italian car market continues to fall, while the Up! keeps rising in Germany, Fiat will not only lose and important market share in A-segment but will be in serious trouble in the next months. Of course the UK, not included due to lack of data, is an important market for the Fiat 500.

Green cells indicate growth compared to June figures. Red ones indicate fall. Source:

Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! August 2012

Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! June 2012

Italy’s bad results affect Fiat 500-Panda in its battle against VW Up!

Once again the monthly report about the impact the small car of VW is having on Fiat 500 and Panda’s sales. In June things got worse for the Italian couple because of only one country: their native Italy. Compared to May figures, the 500 and Panda grew in most markets except for Italy, where both models falled 26% for the 500 and 15% for the Panda, against the VW Up! which was down 17% in that market. The stong fall in Italy made total European market figures to go down 5% and 4% for the 500 and Panda, while the VW was up 4%. Certainly without taking into account Italy, both Fiat would have had much better results, specially in Germany and France. The 3 models of VW, Up!, Citigo and Mii, got record sales numbers in Germany, which counts for 42% of its total sales. Meanwhile Italy represents 43% of Fiat 500 sales in Europe (the UK is not included) and a massive 63% of Panda figures. At the sixth month of the year, the VW beated the Fiat couple in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania and Sweden.

May and June 2012 sales figures for Fiat 500-Panda and VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. Source:

For the first half of the year the situation is still good for the Italians as they combined sold 3.2 times more than the 3 VW. The Panda continues to be the best selling A-Segment car in Europe but it is really dependant on Italian market, something not good nowadays. The new generation is doing good but not as the second one, which was on sale during better times. The Fiat 500 is also doing good but the arrival of the VW trio will continue to impact its sales and maybe could lose its second place among A-segment cars in Europe. If the UK is included the results are better for Fiat, specially for the 500, which has been in the top 10 for 2 consecutive months and is 12th best selling car of that country. In that case the Panda would continue ruling with more than 102.000 units, followed by the 500 with almost 75.000 (23% of them sold in the UK), and then the german trio with more than 54.000 units. These results can be analyzed from several points of view. For example, the VW cars are completely new cars coming from Europe’s largest car maker and offering 3 and 5 doors. In the other hand the Fiat 500 is pretty old, with more than 5 years in the market and a bit more expensive. Anyway the couple from Fiat must work harder to keep their place in the ranking. VW will lead in Germany, Denmark, northern Europe, Austria and the Netherlands, but Fiat must keep its position in Italy, France, Spain and the UK.

Sales figures for Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii for 2012 H1. Source:



Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! July 2012

Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! May 2012

The VW Up! takes off and hits Fiat 500

After the first analysis made by FGW about the sales performance of the new Fiat Panda and VW Up! and the Fiat 500, it is time to see how were May figures to these 3 minicars. When VW Up! was finally available in the market there was a special attention on how the leader of the segment would respond and how consumers would change their mind and shift to Europe’s largest car maker. 5 months after official launch of the German minicar and third generation of Fiat Panda, things began to get complicated to Fiat. Or at least is what sales figures show. Because from what happened last month there can be several different analysis and approaches as the comparison is made among two different family cars: in one side there are the 3 VW, Up!, Citigo and Mii, all in 3 and 5 door versions. And in the other hand there are Fiat 500 (only 3 door) and Fiat Panda (only 5 door). But results can be seen also from the different moments they are living: the Germans and the Panda are enjoying their first months of commercial life, while the unique Fiat 500 will soon have its 5th birthday (July 4th) without any specific facelift or deep change. However here are the results.

Fiat Panda’s dashboard

VW Up! dashboard

The first thing that must be considered is that UK sales figures were not included in the analysis as there is only data for 10 best selling cars. The lack of UK results affects considerably Fiat 500 as it was the tenth best selling car in that country during May/12 with 2.823 units. So the countries to be analyzed were the same of April’s analysis: Austria, Czech Reublic, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, or in other words, those European markets with available data. In May/12 the trio Up!/Citigo/Mii sold more than Fiat 500! it is the first time the small VW have better results than the popular 500. The Germans sold 11.935 units, up 44%, against 10.818 Fiat 500, up 23%. Unlike what one would think, the difference is explained by what happened in smallest markets because both models sold pretty much the same in their native countries: 6.000 units in Germany and in Italy, and vice versa, 1.224 units of VW sold in Italy and 1.572 of 500 sold in Germany. In France they both sold more or less the same, around 1.050 units. But the big differences come from Netherlands and Denmark where the VW Up! has become really popular. In the rest of small markets people are shifting from Fiat to VW. But the analysis must be also done taking into account Fiat Panda figures.

The Fiat 500 has to compete with not only one member of VW family but 3: the VW Up! 3d, Seat Mii 3d, and Skoda Citigo 3d

The third generation is doing quite well in Europe. Although it has not reached yet its predecessor sales numbers, the small Fiat continues to increase the number of units delivered. In May 18.546 Pandas were sold in these countries, up 11%, less than its brother and Germans competitors, but is still the absolute leader of the segment (it was Europe’s 9th best selling car). Of course it depends a lot on Italian market, where it sold 69% of the total, but the new car had interesting numbers in the Netherlands (beating the German trio), and Germany. Anyway in Panda’s figures there are included both, the previous and new generation. It had some problems in Austria, Denmark and Spain, but its registrations in Italy rised 19% compared to April figures. Both Fiat results indicate that the brand is still the leader of the segment as they sold 2.5 more times than the 3 VW. And that’s the point to be considered. It is true the Germans passed Fiat 500 sales by more than 1000 units, but it is also true that in that comparison there are included 3 ‘different’ models (Up!, Citigo and Mii) against just one, the Fiat 500. It is also true that though the German trio sold more than Fiat 500, in the first case there are included two body types, the 3 and 5 door versions, while the Fiat 500 is only available in 3 door version. At the same time the comparison does not take into account that Germans are in their first months of commercial life, while the 500 is on its 5th year. And in the case of the Panda, the same problem of body type could apply. It is also relevant that Italy represents a big part of Europe’s A-segment car sales, and it is now facing really tough times.  In terms of costs is very important to mention that the 500 and Up!/Mii/Citigo are all made in low labor costs countries (Poland and Slovakia) while the latest Panda is made in Italy, where labor cost is higher. And finally one important thing to consider is that Fiat may be the leader of A-Segment but is now competing with the big power and excellent marketing of Europe’s largest car maker.

Fiat Panda offers much more habitability than its German competitors as it is conceived as a small utility vehicle and not as a regular A-segment car.

Year-to-date results show that Fiat Panda reigns and accumulates sales equivalent to the sum of Fiat 500 and VW Up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. The German trio is still behind Fiat 500 by 11.000 units as it had a very bad begining. But things seem to change and they finally begin to be a threat to Fiat 500 leadership, unlike what happened during April 2012. The VWs reigns in Germany but with very far sales numbers from what is seen in Italy with Panda. And also in the land of Skoda Citigo, Czech Republic; in Denmark where the VW Up! could become the country’s best selling car. Also in Slovenia, Slovakia (the country where they are produced) and Sweden. On the other hand both Italians are extremely popular in Italy, France, and somehow in Germany and the Netherlands. No matter what the reason is for this change in A-segment market, it is clear that Fiat must do something to maintain the sales of its beauty 500 or maybe accelerate a big facelift, well they can not loose market share in the only segment where they feel secure.

Sales figures for Fiat 500 and Panda, and VW Up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. Source:



Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! June 2012

Click here to see Fiat Panda/500 vs. VW Up! April 2012

India, the next step for Fiat Panda

Although there is no confirmation from the brand, FGW had access to some information regarding the fact that current Fiat Panda will arrive soon in India. It is actually a possibility known from before but that is getting more solid as other car info sources begin to talk about. According to it, the small car may be available in India’s dealerships in 2013 but it might have another name (maybe Uno?) and Fiat thinks to sell around 24.000 units in the first year. The product must  allow Fiat to reach its target sales of 130.000 units sold by the year 2014. It is without any doubt a very optimistic number as Fiat figures in India have dropped considerably during the last months (in the first 5 months of this year, sales have fallen 28% in a whole market that grows 12%). Anyway the Panda would the right product for that. Actually its second largest market could become India, as its characteristics fit very well into Indians needs and desires when buying a car.

India is by far the largest market for small cars. 41% of total car sales during 2011 corresponded to A-Segment cars, which is more or less 1 million vehicles. They just love small, cheap and practical cars, because most of them are shifting from a motorcycle to their first car. And from A-Segment cars they prefer 5 door tall body type with small but efficient engines. Suzuki is the leader of the market and the segment with its popular Alto, A-Star (aka Alto), Wagon R, Ritz (aka Splash), Estilo and 800. 6 options just for one segment, and most of them 5 door tall compact cars. The same what Panda offers: a small and tall A-segment car with big interior space and efficient engines. But why has not Fiat thought about selling it before? Indian sources says that it is because of the agreement signed by Fiat and Tata, in which Tata asked Fiat not to produce the Panda in India as it could become a real threat to Tata Nano. But those are just speculations. However, now that Fiat is on its way to sell its cars directly, the Panda could arrive soon and maybe hit the market with its great body shape, awesome interior and terrific MultiAir engines. This scenario could be only possible if Fiat decides to produce it locally as imported cars are highly charged with taxes.

The Panda, which continues to lead A-segment sales in Europe and became Italy’s best selling car, could reach interesting sales figures taking into account the results of its main competitors. The Maruti Alto sold more than 310.000 units, followed by Wagon R with 147.000, and Hyundai i10 with more than 138.000. In other words, India could work as USA works for Fiat 500, which has become its second largest market after Italy. If Fiat wants to become an important player in Indian market must consider a specific product for it. The good thing is that the same product they successfully sell in Europe could fit perfectly Indians desires.