Fiat Sales Continue Multimonth Plunge

Fiat sales in the United States continued a sharp drop that goes back years. The division of FCA US sold 616 cars, down 50% in February compared to the same month a year ago. They are off 45% for the year to 1,367. As small models are discontinued by other manufacturers, Fiat has to be a candidate to join that list

Fiat has two severe headwinds. The first is that its models compete with small, inexpensive high gas mileage cars from manufacturers across the auto industry. The second is that the brand is dogged by poor reviews.

Fiat’s small number of models include the 500, the 500L, the 500X, and Spider sports car. They are priced from $16,495 to $24,995. The Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has four cars which compete with these. The total number of competing models stretches into the dozens. Most have larger marketing budgets and more dealers than Fiat.

The latest slap at Fiat’s quality is a recent Consumer Reports study. It ranked Fiat last among all brands measured. The Fiat 500L was among the 10 worst cars overall, and the worst in the subcompact category. Editors wrote:

It’s too bad that the 500L, ultimately proves to be a huge disappointment. At first glance, we thought that its recipe for a fuel-efficient, fun people mover would be attractive to young families or those looking to downsize from SUVs. Indeed, Fiat’s wagon provides impressive interior space for its size, good visibility, super-easy access, and a commendable 27 mpg overall.

They added:

The Fiat rides quite stiffly, with jittery short, quick ride motions that make the car feel nervous even on a smooth highway. Occupants feel bumps as persistent and abrupt pitches and stiff, rubbery kicks.

In a segment all but abandoned in the U.S. market, Fiat stands as the worst among the worst of those which have survived so far.