The small car ranks have been thinned by one—Fiat announced Sunday that the 500 hatchback won’t live on after 2019 in the U.S.
All derivatives of the diminutive 500 will be discontinued, including the cabriolet, high-performance Abarth and the pure electric 500e. Fiat’s 500 spinoffs— the 500X crossover and 500L four-door—will continue to be sold in the United States for the foreseeable future, as will the Mazda MX-5-based 124 Spider.
The current 500 launched in 2007 and was introduced into the U.S. in 2011 following Fiat’s merger with Chrysler. The 500 was initially a popular offering with annual sales approaching 50,000 units, but sales plummeted as consumers moved from cars to crossover and SUVs. Through June 2019, Fiat sold just 1,692 500s in the U.S., marking a 25% year-on-year decline. Even with those falling sales, the 500 is Fiat’s best-selling model, edging out the 500X (1,484 units) and 124 Spider (1,528 units). Even though production has ended, Fiat says enough 500s remain in dealer stock to carry the nameplate through the 2020 model year.
It remains to be seen what the 500’s discontinuation means for the Fiat brand. The 500 was essentially the identity of Fiat and, as mentioned, the automaker’s best-selling model. It’s entirely possible that the 500’s cancellation could be the first sign that the Fiat brand is not long for the U.S.
The 500 is just the latest passenger car to be discontinued because of diminishing sales. Within the FCA family, Chrysler pulled the plug on the 200 mid-size sedan and the mechanically similar Dodge Avenger. The Dodge Dart was also discontinued because of sagging sales. Additionally, both General Motors and Ford have scrapped most of their car models so they can focus on building popular utility vehicles.