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Fiat’s return to America has been met with limited success. Sales of the 500 mini car failed to even come close to expectations, selling just a third of expected volume or around 20,000 units last year.
In Canada, however, with the higher costs of vehicles (and gas), not to mention a more European mindset towards acceptance of smaller cars, the small 500 has done surprisingly well. In 2011 Fiat managed to move over 5,000 units. While a fourth of the US total, it’s an impressive number for a population that’s one-tenth the size.
As a result, Fiat is looking to make a bigger push into Canada in the near future. While the recently-revealed 500L is expected to be offered in both the US and Canada, the Great White North will see two additional models: the Panda MPV, as well as the Punto. Enthusiasts who are now being introduced to the Fiat 500 Abarth, are sure to appreciate the Abarth Punto which is powered by a 165 hp turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and comes outfitted with the usual long list of Abarth performance goodies from brakes, to wheels and tires, to suspension components. In it’s highest trim, the 178 hp Esseesse version is sure to make for a compelling rival against the rumors Ford Fiesta ST.
There’s a lot of hope that the Fiat 500 will be a success here and its almost certain to be a hit in Canada, where small cars make up a much larger segment of the market. This past weekend Chrysler Canada auctioned off the very first of a series of 500 Prima Edizione limited editions 500s, fetching an impressive $85,000. As the first of that set, this car bears the badge “Numero Uno.”
The auction took place as a part of the annual Venetian Ball in Toronto, with all proceeds from the sale being donated to Villa Charities, which works with elderly Italian-Canadians.
“The enthusiastic bidding for this iconic vehicle, and the fact that it sold for $85,000, underscore the excitement and interest the Fiat 500 has generated since Fiat’s return to Canada was first announced,” said Ed Broadbear, Vice President of Marketing – Chrysler Canada.
The Fiat 500 is set to make its U.S. production debut at the LA Auto Show in November, with sales starting shortly thereafter. Next year a convertible version will be offered, with higher-performance Abarth models to follow.
GALLERY: Fiat 500 Prima Edizione Numero Uno
Get more Fiat 500 news and info at Fiat500Owners.com