In the face of awful reviews from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, U.S. sales of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s (NYSE: FCAU) Fiat brand continued a sharp decline in March.
In its press release, Fiat Chrysler management commented:
FIAT brand sales, which include the Fiat 500, Fiat 500L and 500X, were down 24 percent in March, compared with the same month a year ago. The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth is the latest addition to the Fiat 124 Spider lineup, offering added performance features for a sportier, more spirited driving experience. The 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth was revealed last month during the New York International Auto Show. After a thorough, in-depth evaluation by the staff at Autotrader.com, the 2016 Fiat 500X earned a Must Test Drive award in March.
The accolade hardly mattered. Fiat brand sales in the United States dropped 24% to 3,422 in March. The number would have been much worse if not for the new 500X, which had no sales in March of last year and 1,399 last month. The same pattern was true for the first quarter. Overall Fiat sales fell 18% to 9,009. Sales of the 500X were 3,964 compared to nil in March 2015.
The figures are much worse on close examination. The 500 and 500L sales dropped more than half both in March and for the year.
Fiat cars are lost among similarly prices models from every large manufacturer selling cars and light trucks in the United States. The 500 has a base price of $16,845. The base price of the 500L is $19,345. Both have high gas mileage and small engines. Neither can compete with the armies of nearly identical cars from every brand manufacturer from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) to Hyundai to Nissan.
Fiat Chrysler management must ask themselves from time to time why it offers the Fiat at all in the United States. A brand so successful in Europe cannot get any foothold at all in America.