Fiat brand sales in the US still flat despite arrival of 500L

Article by Anita Panait, on October 10, 2013

Fiat brought in the Fiat 500L to its dealers in the United States with the expectation that it will boost its sales in the country. But the Fiat 500L failed to do so and the brand saw its sales in September 2013 decline by 24 percent. As a result, Fiat posted sales of only 32,743 units in the first nine months of 2013 – a level that is more or less similar to the brand’s deliveries in the same period in 2012.

The addition of the 500L as well as the addition of more dealers didn’t help the stagnating sales. Dealers are disappointed with the figures posted by their dealership, according to Alan Haig, president of automotive services for Presidio Group, a financial services firm that brokers dealership sales. A dealer in northern US has the same view. He told Automotive News that the Fiat brand has “become a stepchild.” He said that although Chrysler doesn't want to hear that, “that's the reality."

He told Automotive News that his Fiat store is operating like a used-car lot, supplemented by whatever Fiats he can sell.  Jason Stoicevich, head of the Fiat brand in the US, is optimistic that sales of the 500L will grow.  He remarked that while their online traffic has improved, it takes a few months for those considering a 500L to get into showrooms.

Factory numbers shown to dealers says that just around 45 percent of Fiat dealerships are profitable. But since many of them share some expenses with Chrysler Group dealerships, a smaller number of dealers would be profitable if treated as stand-alone businesses.

The new Fiat 500L is a fusion of the iconic 500 style and the brand’s functional design. Inspired by the concept of 'space efficiency', the Fiat 500L challenges norm by offering a passenger space of an MPV, the on-the-road feel of a small SUV as well as the efficiencies of a compact car. This way, the new Fiat 500L fuses the attributes of different vehicle classes to become a characteristic and versatile car that could serve as an alternative to the conventional saloons in the B and C segments.

The 500 has already become a car that could offer new experiences while catering to new needs, with over 800,000 cars already sold in 110 countries around the world. While the Fiat 500 could be considered as the super-compact car ideal for young customers and the city, the Fiat 500L could be regarded as the 500’s first car that could accommodate smallest pleasures of life and bind family and friends together.

Fiat’s new 500L is simply a new offering that allows a new on-board experience while conveying a new sense of styling individuality. The letter L in its name stands for Large, Light and Loft. Large conveys the car’s ability to offer space and functionality, while Light communicates its nature as an eco-friendly vehicle that is laden with user-friendly technology. Loft, meanwhile, means the car offers a comfortable and convenient ride.

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