Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fiat Struggles to Sell the 500 in North America

So Fiat has finally arrived in North America and it's doing... well... not as well as they wanted. There seems to be a couple of problems. First, it's smaller than most SUV-loving Americans would like. However, with gas prices through the roof Americans are increasingly opting for smaller, more efficient vehicles; the days of highways that look more like monster truck rallies have all but passed. Second, they are expensive; the average price hovers around $20K, which is pretty hefty considering its size and the fact that (third) they are not that well made. Fiats have never done very well outside of Italy, mainly because they couldn't compare to other solid European car makers. Italians love them because they are a point of pride, being typically Italian, and the service is much easier to find and cheaper within Italy.

It seems like they are trying to bounce back, introducing some different models and variations, not to mention an advertising blitz. But they can't even really get that right either. The first (in)famous commercial blew up in their face when Jenny from the Block was driving pretty far from the block. The second (above) is surely a fan-favorite among men, yet those diligent Italian students among us will surely notice her not-so-Italian accent. Her name is Catrinel Menghia and she is Romanian, which doesn't matter at all except for the fact that she is portrayed as being an Italian representative of this typically Italian car. It's actually kind of weird considering that Italy has no shortage of belle donne.

Honestly I hope these are just some minor hiccups for Fiat; it would be nice to see an Italian company doing well. The price needs to come down, but the trend seems to be heading towards the smaller, more efficient type of cars that dominate the European market. Plus, it seems like the "cool" factor is there (despite their advertising controversies), so people might actually want it. At the very least, they will always have a loyal market on the Jersey Shore.

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