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When Fiat returned to the U.S. market after a 25-year absence in 2012, the automaker ran an advertisement showing various Fiat 500 models driving into Italian seas before they, quite literally, washed up on U.S. shores with a voiceover claiming a “new wave” of Italians had arrived.

But if the brand’s American sales don’t improve, Fiat might have to make the long swim back home. Under the Stellantis umbrella, Fiat’s sales figures haven’t been overtly impressive since the marque returned to the U.S., but they have been particularly worrisome as of late.

The interior of a Fiat 500x.
Fiat 500x | Fiat

Fiat’s U.S. sales figures continue to be woeful in 2023

Fiat sold just 138 cars nationwide for the first three months of this year (per GoodCarBadCar), a 59% drop year-over-year for Q1. And with just 340 total models sold during the same period last year, Fiat’s sales were already struggling. Only 915 total Fiats were sold in 2022, a 61% drop off from 2,374 units in 2021.

Of course, a major factor at play is Fiat’s lack of a true lineup. Over the past several years, it axed the standard 500 city car, the station-wagon-like 500L, and the MX-5-based 124 Spider. Annual sales for 2019, in which all four models were still in the lineup, were 15,521 total units, over 8,000 fewer models than its corporate cousin, Alfa Romeo.

With the three models going to the great scrapyard in the sky, at least in the U.S., Fiat now has just one model in its ranks, the 500X four-door compact crossover. Even it can’t account for all of Fiat’s numbers so far this year—three discontinued 500L models were sold.

Fiat’s continued lackluster performance could forecast the brand making another exit from the U.S., but there is some hope on the horizon.

Fiat’s U.S. future could rely on the 500e

Fiat announced last year the 500 would make its return to the U.S. market in a new guise—as the all-electric 2024 500e. The 500e adheres to the original “500 formula” of a tiny footprint, two doors, a hatchback and retro-inspired design.

We’re still waiting to learn more about the full specs of the EV hatchback—Fiat announced it will unveil the production model during November’s 2023 LA Auto Show—but we can look to the European-spec version already on sale for an idea of what to expect.

Across the Atlantic, the 500e is powered by a single electric motor pumping out 117 horsepower with a 32.2-kWh battery pack. Under European testing, the 500e returns up to 199 miles per charge.

Those figures aren’t particularly impressive, but the 500e could strike a chord with urbanites seeking an economical city car with funky styling—the bread and butter of the internal combustion 500. Fiat could up its appeal by offering the soft-top convertible 500e or the version with a 3+1 door layout, similar to that of the Hyundai Veloster, both of which are offered overseas.

Whatever specs and versions are offered in the U.S. in 2024 will need to strike a chord among buyers. With Fiat’s sales continuing to slide, the 500e could be the brand’s last hope to remain viable in the U.S. market.


What Does 500X Stand for in the Fiat 500X?