- Fiat CEO Olivier François told Car and Driver at the 2022 Los Angeles auto show that the future of the brand does not include a next-generation 500X SUV.
- The electric 500e minicar will be the primary focus starting in 2024 as the company shifts its North American strategy.
- That strategy could include subscriptions and car-sharing options.
Fiat is discontinuing its SUV and shifting its focus back to the 500 minicar, as the Cinquecento's North American return was announced today at the 2022 Los Angeles auto show. The brand currently has one model on sale in the U.S.—the 500X SUV—but Fiat boss Olivier François told Car and Driver that it will be phased out after this current generation.
"Fiat is the 500, no other car," François said. "I have a very clear plan to not do anything else than the 500."
Fiat says the current 500X will be available through the end of its current generation, although the automaker declined to say exactly when that will be. We expect it will soldier on at least until the 500e officially launches in America in 2024.
François also explained that the future of the brand on U.S. shores is to serve as a learning opportunity for parent company Stellantis as it eyes a transition to electric vehicles. Experimentation with digital sales, monthly subscription services, limited-release specialty models, and even a car-sharing service are all possibilities for Fiat when the 500e goes on sale in 2024.
"The last thing the American market needs is one more mainstream model or brand," François said.
The car could be offered in a variety of body styles but perhaps not concurrently, giving Fiat an opportunity to switch to whatever seems popular or desired by buyers at any given time. For instance, the 500e could be offered only as a convertible for a certain period of time, then switch back to sales of the hardtop. While sales could still happen via the traditional dealership model, Fiat says a click-to-buy option is an enticing possibility.
The brand will focus on metro areas that are best suited for the car's size and driving range, but François added that rural and suburban buyers wouldn't be locked out if they so desire a 500e. Pricing hasn't been announced, but it's likely that the 500e will be treated as a low-volume style item rather than a mass-market car, which could translate to higher-than-expected prices.
The designer models shown at the L.A. auto show could be an indication that branded collaboration models could play a big role in the car's marketability. Fiat has a history of such collaborations, as the previous-generation car was sold as a Gucci edition in America and in other markets under a partnership with luxury yacht manufacturer Riva.
Drew Dorian is a lifelong car enthusiast who has also held a wide variety of consumer-focused positions throughout his career, ranging from financial counselor to auto salesperson. He has dreamed of becoming a Car and Driver editor since he was 11 years old—a dream that was realized when he joined the staff in April 2016. He’s a born-and-raised Michigander and learned to drive on a 1988 Pontiac Grand Am. His automotive interests run the gamut from convertibles and camper vans to sports cars and luxury SUVs.