Sales of the Fiat brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) were down in January, after a catastrophic drop in 2017. Fiat sold only 1,229 cars last month, down 43% from January of 2017.
Fiat’s 2017 sales dropped 19% to 26,492.
Fiat sales were crushed across almost its entire model line. Sales of the entry 500 model, which has a base price of $14,995, were off 63% to 454. Sales of the 500L were down 2% to 104. Its base price is $20,995. Sales of the 500X were down 19% to 448. Its base price is $19,995.
Fiat hoped its entry into the small sports car market — the Spider — would boost brand sales. However, in January, unit price sales for the Spider were down 24% to 183. The base price for the Spider is $24,995.
Fiat is offering up to a $3,500 cash allowance on some of its 500X models.
Fiat faces two major hurdles. The first is that it generally gets low-quality ratings in major auto research studies. These include J.D. Power, Consumer Reports and the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The second is that virtually every other large car manufacturer that sells cars and light trucks in the United States has models that compete in the low-priced, high-gas-mileage segment.
Fiat’s parent fared much better for the month, as it weaned itself off low-margin fleet sales. Management reported:
FCA US LLC today reported sales of 132,803 vehicles, a 13 percent decrease compared with sales in January 2017 of 152,218.
Retail sales rose 2 percent to 111,577, making it the second highest level since 2001. FCA maintained its strategy of reducing fleet sales, which decreased by 50 percent compared with January 2017. Fleet accounted for 16 percent of total January sales.
Fiat was mentioned in a single sentence: “Sales of Fiat brand declined 43 percent to 1,229 vehicles.”
Hard to say anything more.