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First Drive: 2014 Fiat 500L

Big things come in small packages.

by on Jun.17, 2013

Fiat Lands its Second Model, the 500L.

After a painfully slow start, Fiat has gained significant market momentum in recent months as it has delivered a growing range of new products to its U.S. showrooms, including the new 500e battery-electric vehicle.

But there’s only so far you can go no matter how many variants you come up with off the same minicar platform and Fiat’s U.S. planners are well aware that the most common reason potential buyers turn elsewhere is because the 500 coupe is simply too small for the majority of buyers.

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No wonder, then, that the maker is investing so much time and effort into the launch of the 2014 Fiat 500L, the all-new people-mover that is just beginning to roll into American showrooms – or “studios” as the Italian automaker prefers to call them.

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Fiat 500: Is America Ready to Embrace Micro?

Making the case to buy Cinquecento revolves around the cuteness factor.

by on Apr.25, 2012

Fiat has returned to the U.S. market with the 500, a tiny, four-seat two-door hatchback.

There’s two ways to tell the story of the Fiat 500.

Story no. 1:

It seemed like a relatively simple trip. Two people, two duffel bags, one box of Easter flowers, a computer bag, one dog. But crammed inside the Fiat 500, no one was happy about the space allotted to them, the dog especially. Geez, there weren’t even kids tagging along for this trip.

Or, story no. 2

From Small to Big!

There’s this woman I know who loves tiny cars. She sees this little Fiat 500 and declares “This is a Rhonda car. Can I drive it?”

Look, there’s no denying the 500 is as cute as a teacup Italian greyhound. For many, that’s the appeal. And when it’s time to pack for a weekend up north? Well, pack light and bring gift cards to the local greenhouse.

Fiat has been gone from the U.S. market for 29 years. But when the company took control of Chrysler, it saw an opportunity to make its often-delayed return to the U.S. market. The car it decided to bring here first is the tiny 500, or Cinquecento in Italian.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia: Fiat Meets Gucci

Two of Italy’s best combine in a new logomobile.

by on Feb.28, 2011

Two Italian legends team up in the Gucci Fiat 500.

Fashionistas, devotees and logo lovers of style, elegance and panache can now rejoice: the most famous fashion logo in the world, Gucci’s double G, is now an official part of Italian automotive heritage, history and haute couture.

Ciao e benvenuto to the ‘500 by Gucci’! Bellisimo.

The international fashion press went ga-ga last week during the Milan Fashion Week when  Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini introduced the new Gucci edition 500 during the packed Gucci fashion show in Milan. She stated, “In the 50s, the Fiat 500 created a style revolution when it first hit the road. It quickly became the must-have car of its time. Travelling in style has also been at the heart of Gucci ever since Guccio Gucci founded his company as a producer of leather trunks, suitcases and handbags in 1921.”  (Click Here for a video clip of an interview with Frida Giannini.)

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In fact the introduction of the 500 by Gucci is more than the usual auto brand and designer licensing deal (remember the Bill Blass Lincoln?) paying a six or seven percent royalty. It is a celebration of Italy’s 150th anniversary as a nation and the founding of Gucci 90 years ago. Gucci and Fiat, arguably are the two best known Italian brand names in the world.

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First Drive: Fiat 500

Good things do come in small packages.

by on Jan.28, 2011

The Fiat 500 finally arrives in the States.

Who says good things come in small packages?  Probably anyone who gets the chance to drive the new, U.S. version of the Fiat 500.

The Italian microcar has won a procession of awards back on the home continent, including the much-coveted World Car of the Year.  But the question is whether American motorists will give the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 a similarly warm reception.

This is a Costco nation that lives by the motto, “bigger is better,” and nowhere is that more apparent than in the automotive industry – though there are some telling hints of a shifting mindset.  While demand for the struggling Smart fortwo is rapidly drying up, that seems to be more the result of product flaws than an inherent market resistance to small cars.  The continuing success of the British-made Mini is certainly more compelling – at least for Fiat planners.

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Laura Soaves, who is overseeing the U.S. launch of the Fiat brand, projects that by 2014 small car sales in the U.S. will double, to nearly 1 million – a trend other experts echo.  Oh, and make that “re-launch” the Fiat brand, which poses a separate challenge.  The Italian maker abandoned the American market in haste, a quarter-century ago, driven out by quality problems that led to plunging sales.

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