Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Fiat 500 has arrived in the USA

In the midst of high gas prices and a trend toward smaller vehicles, the Fiat 500 is still a head-scratcher.  One simple reason:  price.

Per this story on, the Fiat 500 will have a 101-hp engine starting at $16,000, topping out around $21,000.

While this vehicle is not meant to compete with, say, a Honda Civic - which has grown in size in lockstep with the Accord to the point that the Accord is now a "full size" car - it'll still be difficult to find a market for the upstream trim level, which will likely surpass $20K.  For $20K, you can get a Civic with decent features and the gas mileage will be about the same in an auto transmission: 34/27 for the AT Fiat 500, and 38mpg highway for the 2011 Civic coupe.

I can understand the novelty of such a vehicle but feel it will have a limited market, appealing to hipsters looking for something different as well as the article's protagonist - Boomers who are of Italian descent or who used to own a "CinqueCento" back in the day.

Still, one can hardly blame Marchionne for not showing all his cards in Fiat's first romp back in the States since 1984.  It didn't cost Fiat much to re-enter the market, having brought no cash to the table when obtaining a stake in the bankrupt Chrysler back in 2009.  So, much like with the Alfa 8C Competezione, he's aiming for a very targeted campaign, hoping they sell out, and having this car be, in effect, free advertising for the next wave of more sensible Fiat vehicles. 

Here's to hoping Fiat sells out the 500 at all of the 130 dealerships at which it will be offered, and we see more Fiats and Alfas in the coming years.

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