Fiat Sales Destroyed in September

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Following a pattern that has gone on throughout the year, but worsened last month, Fiat sales were terrible. They dropped 30% to 2,913 in September.

Sales were helped a very small amount by the new Spider. Fiat sold 490 of them. Sales of the 500X, which have been good throughout the year, fell 55% to 859. The collapsing 500L dropped 69% to 103. Fiat’s best-selling car, the 500, dropped 25% to 1,481.

The numbers raise the issue, once again, of why parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) sells the brand in the United States at all.

Among the problems Fiat has had is that it often ends up near the bottom of the lists of car quality measures. It is hard to sell a small car, which is a very competitive part of the market, if other vehicles rate above it.

One hint that Fiat cars have so little demand is that it also ranks high on “days on lot,” a yardstick of how long it takes dealers to sell cars after they receive delivery from the manufacturer.

Fiat is also outgunned by higher selling competition from major brands. Most base Fiats are priced between $17,000 and $22,000. Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Fiesta has a base price of just over $14,000. The Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) Yaris is priced about the same. Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s (NYSE: HMC) Fit is priced at just above $16,000.

There is no single reason to think Fiat’s fortunes will improve.