It’s no surprise that the 500′s return to North America did not make the splash that Fiat expected. Having sold less than 20,000 vehicles in its first model year in the United States, the 500 only did half as well as the company initially forecasted.
The success of the 500 is essential to the Italian automaker’s re-entry into the North American market. In Europe, Fiat sold more than 770,000 units since the 500′s introduction in 2007. Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted that the 500′s weak performance was in part due to overly-optimistic forecasting. “We thought we were going to show up and just because of the fact people like gelato and pasta, people will buy it.”
However, Fiat believes that creating variants for the 500 could help boost its popularity.
Set for unveiling at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, Fiat hopes that a 5-door Fiat 500 wagon will find better success in the North American market. The official release date of the Fiat 500 wagon is slated for 2013, while a sportier Fiat Abarth hot hatch will be available for sale later this year.
Whether the 500 wagon will boost Fiat sales remains to be seen. While the wagon’s dimensions will be slightly larger and more suitable for American consumers, station wagons are historically unpopular in North America.
[Source: Car Connection]