Fiat wants Americans to forget the negative stigma that's often been associated with the Italian brand here in the States and hopes that out market heralds the adorable 500 as the dawn of a new era for both Chrysler and partner Fiat. one big question is whether the 500, a car which will compete with the likes of the Mini Cooper, Ford Fiesta and other aspiring newcomers, will be a success? Fiat most certainly hopes so, but there are others who would seem to disagree.
Fiat announced that it expects North American sales of the 500 to peak at 78,000 units by 2013, but some dealers and even a few industry analysts believe that the Italian automaker is being optimistic. Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Automotive, says her firm projects Fiat 500 sales will hit a ceiling of 40,000 in 2012 and then fall off after that. IHS based its numbers on other small vehicles and their success, or lack thereof, on U.S. turf. For example, the Mini Cooper, backed by bundles of BMW marketing support, peaked at 54,077 sales in 2008. Meanwhile, Smart has been much less successful. The fortwo hit a high of 24,622 sales in 2008 before tumbling to just 14,592 in 2009.
Since the 500 falls somewhere between the size of the Mini Cooper and Smart fortwo, Fiat's goal of 78,000 sales, in a market that historically goes crazy for something a bit more supersized, seems beyond reach. We'll find out soon enough.