Fiat Sells Out the 500C; Is America Ready to Embrace the Brand Again?

It is generally believed that Americans don’t have much of an appetite for small cars.  It is also generally believed that, when the Fiat brand left US shores in 1983, the brand’s image was so badly tarnished that a US comeback would be nothing more than an embarrassing (and expensive!) failure.

The good people at Fiat might like to remind you that it’s good to question your beliefs, now and again.

Fiat had high hopes for the 500C in the US – the little compact was to lead the charge for the first American Fiats in nearly 30 years.  For many American carbuyers, the 500C would be their first encounter with the brand, so the car’s success or failure would be critical to the early growth of the brand.

If early indicators can be trusted, Fiat needn’t worry:  all 500 examples of the limited-edition 2011 Fiat 500 Prima are already spoken for.

Laura Stove, the head of Fiat North America, is thrilled by this early success, remarking that “it’s important that the Fiat enthusiasts and fans are among the first to receive their very own Fiat 500 Prima Edizione vehicles, as they share the same excitement about the brand’s presence in North America.  As we begin to introduce Fiat to North America, our goal is to develop a solid relationship with our customers so they are made to feel as part of the brand.”

Selling out of 500C Primas months before they’re available to be driven is a good start for Fiat as a brand, and (hopefully!) an indiciator that Americans might be finally ready to accept “smaller” European cars with smaller, more fuel-efficient engines.  Whatever the cars, this particular FLU member will be keeping his fingers crossed for a successful Fiat return.


Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.