Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Fiat 500 America: Not for America

Red, white and European.

by on Mar.08, 2012

America, America...? Fiat's starts-and-stripes edition will be limited to the European market.

Want to show your colors?  Fiat is waving the flag, but there’s just one catch: the red, white and blue Fiat 500 America edition won’t be sold in the U.S.

The Italian maker apparently wants to make the rest of the world, especially buyers in its home base of Europe, well aware that it’s returned to the States for the first time in two decades with the popular model folks on the Continent know as the Cinquecento.

News from Geneva!

To introduce the 500 America, the maker opened its Geneva Motor Show news conference with the widely watched, albeit controversial, Clint Eastwood ad that first aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Considering Europe’s worsening financial situation, the message of the 2-minute spot, dubbed “Halftime in America,” was clearly not lost on the crowd.

Stars and stripes forever? The flag-bedecked Fiat 500 America mirror cap.

Fiat officials also made reference to an earlier spot, the first one for the 500 to air in the U.S., in fact, another controversial campaign starring pop diva Jennifer Lopez.

But even JLo, it turns out, won’t be able to order one of the limited-edition Fiat 500 America models, of which a grand total of 1,000 will be produced this year.  Each model will get a customized number plate to attest to its uniqueness.

Half of the run will be coupe models painted a distinctive metallic “America Blue.”  The rest will be white convertibles.  But the most distinctive visual detail will be the flag-striped Mirror caps.

Both versions of the Fiat 500 America will feature unique 16-inch wheels, according to Fiat brand boss Olivier Francois.

There’ll also be a customized interior – for the coupe, for example, that means red ivory seats with a contrasting white dash.

Might other special editions be in the works?  Apparently, as keeping the variants rolling is something Fiat is betting will keep demand building in a segment where style-forward coupes generally have a half-life of no more than a couple years.

So far, however, the Fiat 500 has continued drawing them in, with about 500,000 sold since the latest model was launched a few years ago.  Ironically, the maker’s biggest problem has been in the American market, where demand ran about half initial expectations last year, despite – or perhaps because of – an overly ambitious goal.

The maker is looking to build momentum this year and Olivier boasted that demand in February surged 69%, clearly boosted by more aggressive marketing efforts including the newest brand ad featuring Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen and supermodel Catrinela Menghia.

The big test will come in the weeks and months ahead, however, when Fiat launches its new Abarth edition in the U.S.  The interesting thing here is that Americans will get a more powerful motor than Europeans, a Detroit-made turbo version of the Fiat MultiAir powertrain making 160 horsepower. That’s also a big jump from the base State-side 500, which makes a more anemic 101 hp.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.