Fiat 500 in the US: positive sales at launch, will it last?

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Fiat 500 North America

The Italians are celebrating what seem to be positive first sales of the Fiat 500 in the USA. The citycar model in a US big car market has a risky future for the first Fiat model in the US when looked at from a size point of view, but it seems its cool retro design is winning over the style-conscious at the start.

All Fiat US and Canadian dealerships have apparently sold out of their models since it first launched on April 1. Reservations and test drive requests have been registered such that all the 500 units, including the ones in the showrooms, have been sold. According to reports, the Fiat showroom in New York sold all its 30 units in just a few hours. It also collected orders for another 20 models, with delivery times set for April 20.

According to the NY Fiat dealership manager, Alfredo Gulla, the model appeals to Americans and not just Italo-Americans. Having sold Fiat models for the past 60 years, he says: “It’s true that America has changed but the approach from Americans to Italian cars is the same. The first 50 Fiat 500 models we sold were nearly all to Americans, only two customers were Italo-American.” He goes on to laude the Fiat 500, saying that customers who are buying are passionate about attention to detail.

Essentially, Gulla says that Fiat 500 has got everything a big car has, in a small car package (mentioning features such as the touchscreen and seven airbags). He concludes by saying that after 30 years, he can finally go back to selling Italian cars. And with the attention the little Fiat 500 is getting in the mainstream US press, we can safely say that so far this marks a new “made in Italy” love affair for Americans, at least from the Italian view. Il Giornale Italian newspaper even ran the headline “USA goes crazy for stars and stripes Fiat 500″.

Will it last? It’s too early to say, but the reaction of US blogs to the 500 has been cautiously positive at first. It’s not always easy to translate that kind of optimism into sales, but a good start is gold in this industry. We doubt we’ll see the US as populated with the 500 as here in Europe, but perhaps small cars can sell after all….

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