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When Fiat pronounced that it was planning to sell 50,000 Fiat 500 models in 2011, we were more than a little skeptical. And now that 2011 is in the rear view mirror, it seems CEO Sergio Marchionne is ready to admit that the sales target was not very realistic.

CNN Money reports that the charismatic Fiat/Chrysler boss is now calling the 50,000 number "incredibly naive," adding that the goal was to best Mini Cooper's 2010 sales total of 45,644. Fiat only managed to sell 19,769 Cinquecento models for the year.

Given that Mini has been in the U.S. for a decade and the marque already has an established dealer body and marketing presence – as well as an entire range of products – critics have said that clear that Fiat's 50,000-unit first-year goal was ambitious to a fault. Marchionne went on to add "we set ourselves up for a fall," but the chief executive insists that the future of Fiat in the U.S. is still very strong.

Even though sales of the 500 came nowhere near 50,000 units, Marchionne says that the Mexico plant that builds the A-segment ride is still profitable. That's because the plant also builds models for South America and China. Marchionne is reportedly hoping to sell between 25,000 and 30,000 copies of the 500 in the U.S. in 2012. While the 500 will likely be the only Fiat-branded model available in U.S. showrooms in 2012, the lineup is at least set to expand with models like the $22,000 high-performance 500 Abarth.

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