Fiat hasn’t always been known for being the most reliable brand. In fact, since the Fiat brand was reintroduced into the U.S. market in 2011, they have introduced a few new nameplates like the 500, the 500L, and the 500X, however, all those cars have scored low on Consumer Report’s reliability index for almost every year that they have been in production. Does that mean that the acronym for Fiat will forever jokingly stand for “Fix It Again, Tony?”
Fiat has a very long and storied past
In actuality, the Fiat name stands for “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino,” which translates in English to “Italian Automobile Factory of Turin.” It sure makes a lot more sense when you think of that way, especially considering Fiat opened its first automotive factory in Turin at around the year 1900. The automaker produced 24 different cars that same year and eventually opened up a bigger factory in Turin in 1922, known as the Lingotto factory.
That factory served as the main hub for producing Fiat’s cars and it was such a large facility that it even had a test track on top of it. Around this time, Fiat made its debut in the U.S. and found a lot of success. In fact, it was considered a luxury brand at the time here in the states, but eventually, World War II hit and many of the factories were destroyed. Fiat eventually scaled back their U.S. efforts and went on to produce plenty of more models in Europe. In 2011, however, Fiat came back to the U.S. and merged with Chrysler in 2014.
Fiat tried to reinvent itself when it came back to the U.S.
Upon Fiat’s return to the U.S., it tried to reinvent its image upon the release of the Fiat 500 hatchback. The Fiat 500 was a retro-styled hatchback that exuded some Italian flare. It was zippy, and fun to drive, however, the interior materials were cheap feeling, the driving position was a bit odd as the steering wheel felt like it was far away, and to top it all off, the ride was noisy. That didn’t stop some enthusiasts from enjoying the niche car, especially its more aggressive counterpart; the Fiat 500 Abarth.
Fast forward a couple of years when Fiat introduced the Fiat 500X SUV. The 500X was a larger, four-door variant of the Fiat 500 hatchback that rode taller and presented a larger overall packager. However, Consumer Reports found that it was noisy, had a stiff ride, and shared some of the “same virtues and weaknesses” of its Jeep Renegade cousin. The Fiat 124 convertible was a shining light in the otherwise dark alcove that Fiat had carved out for itself with its two-car lineup when it debuted in 2017, however, that was mainly due to the fact that the Fiat 124 was basically a Mazda MX-5 in Fiat clothing and with a Fiat engine. The brand reinvented itself, but it was still not to America’s taste.
Does Fiat need to fix it again?
Although Fiat has tried to fix its image enough to appease the American public, the future doesn’t look too bright either. The brand halted production of its 500 and 500e hatchbacks in North America and will continue on with its 500L, 500X, and 124 models, although, sales are slowly declining for those models as well. While there might not be anything else for the brand to “fix,” we think that former Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne’s quote sums it up best: “We thought we were going to show up and just because of the fact that people like gelato and pasta, people will buy it.” Apparently not. But Americans sure do like pizza.