World: Can the 500L save Fiat?
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Now that the Fiat 500L has launched in most of Europe and that a mum-rapping video has landed in the UK (see above), I thought I’d write a little a bit about whether the 500L could be Fiat’s saving grace. It debuted on 4 July 2012, exactly five years after the presentation of the Nuova Fiat 500 and 55 years after the historic 500… It is already #9 in Italy for its third month in market so a great start at home, its first 200 units were sold online in Spain in 24 hours and it is starting to climb up most European rankings.
Fiat is planning to have the 500L on sale in over 100 countries worldwide by the time 2013 comes to an end and wants to build on the worldwide success of the Fiat 500 which recently passed the one million-units production milestone and is currently sold in 110 countries.
One interesting market is the US, where Fiat was reintroduced 2 years ago with the 500. The 500L will be the brand’s second nameplate there and Good Car Bad Car expects it to be a 20,ooo units-a-year model in the US, roughly at half the sales level of the 500, starting with 17,000 units in 2013 which will not be a full year for the 500L. This figure would enable Fiat to grow by 40% in the US next year even if the 500 stays at the same level as 2012.
In Europe, a good comparison is the Mini Countryman which is delivering half of the Mini’s sales there. Following the same logic, with the 500 at around 160,000 annual units in the old continent, expect the 500L to reach approximately 80,000 in 2013. The joker is Brazil…
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The joker is Brazil, where no launch date has been announced yet. In this market the 500L could actually end up selling better than the 500 if it is priced aggressively because its format fits perfectly the tastes of Brazilian car buyers. The Fiat Idea does indeed much better than in any other country in the world there and in particular better than the 500: in 2012, around 16,000 Fiat 500 will be sold there vs. 26,000 Idea, so Fiat could reasonably expect the 500L to reach 30,000 to 35,000 sales in Brazil in a full year.
All added-up, Fiat 500L sales could reach 90,000 to 100,000 in 2012 and 130,000 in 2013, making it one of the Top 200 best-selling models in the world. Welcome additional sales for Fiat, especially in the poor European climate, but potentially not enough to single-mindedly reverse the brand’s fortunes quickly…