Fiat withdraws model 500 from the US market before low sales

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(Bloomberg) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will stop the production of its electric Fiat 500 and 500e backdoor models in North America, the manufacturer's latest measure to curb exposure to a declining car market in the United States.

As the production of both models ends at a plant in Toluca, Mexico, the remaining inventory will be sold next year, the company said in a statement. The Italian-American automaker did not specify which vehicles can replace them at its Toluca plant.

Fiat Chrysler will continue sales in the US of the 500X crossover, a slightly larger version, the 500L truck and the 124 Spider convertible. However, the decision to withdraw the main 500 model from the US brand. He ends an eight-year experiment and refocuses the company on its most profitable and largest vehicles, such as Jeep SUVs and Ram trucks.

Fiat returned to the US market in 2011, betting that the elegant Italian car could compete with the United Kingdom Mini Cooper while fulfilling a promise to the Obama administration to help sell small cars with lower fuel consumption to Americans. Despite a high-profile marketing campaign, the 500 model did not reach the initial forecast for sales of 50,000 vehicles per year in the US.

Former executive director Sergio Marchionne acknowledged the false steps of marketing in the initiative: "We thought we were going to appear and just because of the fact that people like ice cream and pasta, they would buy it," he told reporters at the Detroit Motor Show in 2012. "This makes no sense."

The fall in gasoline prices and the love story of American drivers with large sport utility vehicles frustrated Fiat's efforts to gain ground. Sales of all Fiat cars in the US They reached a maximum of 46,000 units in 2014, and have been in free fall since then: they decreased 41% last year to only 15,521 vehicles, the lowest level since the reintroduction of the brand in the US market after 30 years of absence in the country.

Fiat brand sales fell 38% in the first half of 2019 and deliveries of the 500 model dropped 25% to 1,692 units. Sales of 500 decreased to more than half last year to only 5,370.

Fiat Chrysler plans to build a new fully electric 500 at its Mirafiori plant in Turin, but has not said whether that car will be sold in the US.

Original Note: Fiat Pulls 500 Off U.S. Market as Americans Snub Italian Minicar

Reporter in the original note: Gabrielle Coppola in New York, [email protected]

Publishers responsible for the original note: Craig Trudell, [email protected], Chester Dawson

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