Fiat's boss claims Italian maker has "no legitimacy" in the sports car market after 124 Spider was removed from sale
23 August 2019

A new version of the Fiat and Abarth 124 Spider is unlikely, according to Fiat CEO Olivier François. 

Although the Fiat and Abarth 124 Spiders have been withdrawn from UK sale, both loss makers here, the two continue to be offered in mainland Europe and the US. 

Despite sharing a platform and factory with Mazda, which assembles the 124 Spiders alongside the MX-5 upon which they’re based, these economies of scale are not enough to overcome the perils of currency fluctuations, nor the cost of shipping Fiat engines to Japan for the cars. 

Sports cars are notoriously inconsistent money makers, but François’s suggestion that the brand has “no legitimacy” in this field is surprising, given the Fiat Barchetta, Coupé, X1/9, 124 Spider, 124 Coupé and 850 Spider from its past. That said, these models are far less well known than the MX-5 and BMW Z4.

Earlier this year François told Autocar that there was still interest in that segment within the brand, but it's not vital to the ongoing revival of Fiat.

“The 124 market is a niche one,” said François. “It is profitable business for us - but only because of the joint venture. It was an opportunity and we took it. It makes money and it adds a certain cool factor.

“But I accept that such a car may not be key to the future of the brand. It is not what I’d call a pure, absolute Fiat, but for now, it remains an interesting opportunity.”

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Comments
22

23 August 2019

The roadsters listed above existed what, 40 years ago? I barely remember them so it's unsurprising that there is zero brand recognition for that type of car with the general public.

The last performance FIAT I remember is the Tipo 16v of the 1990s so it's not as if they have taken a sudden right turn away from the sports car market. It's much more interesting that they see their future in small family cars where conventional wisdom says that there is no money to be made.

23 August 2019
SamVimes1972 wrote:

The roadsters listed above existed what, 40 years ago? I barely remember them so it's unsurprising that there is zero brand recognition for that type of car with the general public.

The last performance FIAT I remember is the Tipo 16v of the 1990s so it's not as if they have taken a sudden right turn away from the sports car market. It's much more interesting that they see their future in small family cars where conventional wisdom says that there is no money to be made.

The barchetta is far more recent than 40 yrs, from 95- 05 ish, as for performance fiats are you forgetting the fiat coupe as mentioned in the article? There was a performance stilo as well including a Michael Schumacher edition and performance puntos including abarth versions. So fiats sporty cars are from recent memory though admittedly roadsters less so.

23 August 2019

Well if this is true, surely Fiat should do it again. Or maybe the truth is that any profits were tiny, given the cost / distraction of modifying the Mazda design and providing bespoke engines.  

Perhaps it's time for another manufacturer to step in: how about a Mazda based Triumph Spitfire or Lotus Elan?  

23 August 2019

Fiat's current core line-up, the 12 year old 500, the 500X and 500L which are simply awful, the 8 year old Panda and the Tipo which is simply average. No replacement for the Punto which went out of production last year after 13 years in production. No proper mainstream SUV. No new large car since the last Croma went out of production in 2010. And as for Alfa Romeo and Maserati, it seems their revival is stalling (again). By now there should have at least been more variants of the Giulia on sale by now while the Giulietta should have been replaced years ago. That there is no new Mito is a consequence of there bing no new Punto with which to share its platform. And we're still waiting for Maserati's sports car to hit the road. And lets not even mention Lancia who only now make the 8 year old Ypsilon which is based on the ancient 500. It's not hard to see why FCA's Italian side of things isn't in the best of health, it's almost like Laurel and Hardy have been running the product management and marketing departments for the last 10 years. The whole running of Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Maserati is almost bordering on incompetence.

23 August 2019

I knew the 124 was no longer available in the UK but I thought the Abarth was still on sale. Britain loves open top sports cars and the car is designed for RHD so how did they get this so wrong?

23 August 2019

I was very disappointed to learn of the discontinuation of the 124. The world needs more fun little roadsters. It seems that the complexity of cars these days is making many smaller market segments unviable. Returning to simplicity, in whatever way possible, would be a welcome development in the Auto Industry, particularly in Europe.

MrJ

23 August 2019

Seems like Francois is making excuses for what is a fussy-looker that competes against its sister vehicle, the MX-5. Fiat has plenty of history, but retro isn't exactly flavour of the month unless it's done really well. Of the Fiat range, to my eyes, the base 500 is the only one to go for. 

23 August 2019

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Normaayala

23 August 2019

Should've been an Alfa Romeo, as was the original plan. Alfa has been building spiders on and off for decades (eg. GTV based, Brera based)

23 August 2019

The morons at FCA dont seem to know what to do with FIAT, they are relying on the brand to continue on just TWO models, the Panda and 500, with cars heading EV way, these two will become irrelevant, as they will be unable in the short to medium term, to return a decent Mileage, especially as brands like MG have already launched the eZS, which is amazing, i have tried it long term and its a car that will shake the small car segment up, initial sales have proven that.

 

FIAT needs to have a halo model, whether that was what the 124 was about i do not know, but Mazda can make money out of it, so how come FIAT can not, the barchetta and coupe from 20 years+ ago, were stand out cars, they looked stunning and went well too, even the X1/9 was totally different from anything else on the market which is why it sold.

 

FCA needs to have a pact with a brand that can make money out of a fast sports car, and maybe an EV version, that brings us back to MG, the new sports coupe coming next year will be that car, utilise the running gear, and give it a stunning look, completely different from anything else on the market and it will sell.

 

They have screwed up AR, by starting the relaunch well, but now its come to a stop, Lancia needs to be brought back to life, the Y is a good car, but needs to be replaced, they need to get some low priced luxury cars out there, Lancia can do that, 

 

 

  • Maserati is failing
  • Lancia is Failing
  • Fiat is stable but not in a great position
  • Abarth is a waste of time
  • Alfa is sliding again, it needs another four all new models NOW, not in 5 years time
  • Dodge is slipping
  • Chrysler has failed
  • Jeep is Successful
  • RAM is Very Successful

 

but you cant run a worldwide conglomerate on two brands alone, when you have so many others that need a lifeline, either close them, or fund them, but do not let them wither and end up a lost marque with no good final history.

 

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