Sales of Chrysler Fiat Automobile N.V.’s (NYSE: FCAU) Fiat brand plunged 33% year over year to 1,769 units in October. For the first 10 months of the year, they are down 17% to 23,021. Fiat is barely a niche brand, based on recent results.
The numbers were dragged down by two of Fiat’s most popular models. Sales of the base 500 model dropped 37% to 801. Sales of the 500X dropped 28% to 561. This was partially offset by a 34% increase of Model 300L to 158. Sales of the Spider fell from 444 to 248. Fiat lists the Spider as a new model and does not offer a percentage change in year-over-year sales.
Fiat management commented:
Sales of the Fiat 500L increased 34 percent last month for its best October sales since 2015. A redesigned exterior gives the 2018 500L an updated look, with new front and rear fascia design, bodyside molding design, wheel designs, daytime running light lens and rear side reflector design.
The statement dodges the heart to the matter. Fiat is not a viable brand in the United States.
Fiat sales are plagued by two things. The first is that the brand does poorly in a number of widely regarded consumer surveys, led by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. It is hard for marketing messages to overwhelm this trouble, given how carefully this research is followed.
Fiat’s second problem is that its low-price, low-weight, high-mileage cars face hard competition from every large car company. Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Ford have done a particularly good job in targeting this market segment. Some of their best-selling small cars sell well into the hundreds of thousands of units each year.
Fiat Chrysler has no way to fix its Fiat problem.