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Fiat USA sees earnings boost on loaded 500 purchases

Fiat’s return to the States after a 28-year absence has sent sales of its too-cute 2012 Fiat 500 soaring. Even better for Fiat, more than half of U.S. buyers are shelling out the dough to put higher-end 500s in their driveways.

According to Automotive News, half of the 500s sold to date have been optioned with the Sport package, which commands a $2,000 premium over the base Pop version. Around 20 percent of buyers are going straight for the Lounge models, which start at $19,500.

With the car’s enviable spot as a style item adding to the madness, things are looking pretty sweet for Fiat at the moment.

Wonder what percentage of the owners are women

This may be the counterpart of the VW bug of the late 1950s through the 1960s. If this car has reasonable build quality it might become popular with younger people. If Chrysler makes certain that their bigger models are quality products, a Fiat 500 driver with a family may upgraade to a bigger Chrysler when he/she trades.

In addition to what Triedag stated, I want to make a pre-emptive comment.

For those who are tempted to make those tired old “Fix It Again Tony” jokes about Fiat, think about this:
Would you want the General Motors or Ford Motor Company of today to be judged on the basis of the abominations that they churned out in the '80s & '90s?

Things change, and to prejudge the newer Fiat models on the basis of the ones last sold in this country a few decades ago is…not necessarily accurate. Time will tell, of course.

people have long memories on these things. How many posts do we read today about people wondering if they should buy a 20 year old Volvo because they’re safe cars(to which one of us posts the Renault/volvo crash video from 5th gear). Or that they refuse to buy american because they make junk

I used to have a Lancia Beta, it was from Fiat company (merged) in the 70’s. Pretty peppy car and was as reliable if not better than that generation of cars. Well, my dad apparently had one of the 1st generation Fiats, not sure if it gave him mechanical problems, would ask, but I know we flipped it once, then pushed it back upright and drove it.

When we traveled through Argentina back in 2008 I was surprised at the number of Fiats that were on the roads there…they were everywhere with many different models. We even rode in Fiat taxis on a few occasions…overall the cars are quite different than they were 30+ years ago, as should be expected. With the many young US buyers today that are too young to know about “Fix It Again Tony” or the horrible rust issues of yesteryear perhaps the 500 will make a big splash…time will tell. I sure hear a lot of people refer to its “cuteness” and I’ve started to see a few more on the road lately.

If the Fiat 500 catches on and the build qualitiy is good, this should be a great opportunity for Chrysler. If the purchasers of the Fiat 500 have a good experience and are ready to upgrade, many will look at other models in the Chrysler line. If Chrysler has a quality product in these upscale models, this will really help Chrysler’s image.
I thought Chrysler had a great opportunity to do this with the Neon. However, the Neon did not seem to have the quality of the Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics.
Volkswagen had a quality image with its original VW Beetle that was brought into this country in the mid 1950s. The car was so popular, customers often had a 3 month wait for delivery after placing an order. However, the bigger VW models introduced in the 1960s–the Fastback, Squareback and 411 models were troublesome. Had these bigger VWs had a better reliability record, VW would be in a great position today.

While it’s been some years since Fiats were sold in the U.S., they’re actually pretty popular overseas. Like others, I recommend that they be judged on their merits rather than on our memories. I suspect that they’ll fill a void in the marketplace here, as long as they can keep the cost low.