Fiat plans to offer six-speed Aisin automatic transmission as an option in 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth and Turbo models in the United States, according to Jason Stoicevich, head of the brand in North America. The option will be available after the models go into production in July. Brand executives have remarked the automatic will further the models' sales appeal.
The Fiat 500 Abarth, which has been available only with a manual gearbox since it was launched in 2012, accounts for around 15 percent of Fiat 500 sales. According to Stoicevich, one of the factors why Fiat customers don’t opt for the Abarth is the lack of automatic, noting young people just “don't drive a manual transmission."
He added that the addition of an automatic could boost sales of the performance versions by up to 50 percent. Stoicevich remarked that versions of the MY2015 500 will also feature a new 7-inch electronic display in its instrument cluster.
The Fiat brand -- includes the 500 and the larger 500L -- posted a record month in March in the United States, selling 4,738 units. The brand, however, saw sales of the Fiat 500 drop 13 percent to 3,316 units year-on-year in March.