The 500L 4-door sedan will go on sale by the end of June, but North American brand chief Tim Kuniskis won’t say whether any of the newcomers will be derivatives of the 500 2-door coupe.
Auto maker responds to consumer interest in bigger 500 with 500L.
CHICAGO – Look forto add by 2015 at least six models to a North American lineup that now consists of the base 500, upmarket 500 Abarth and the larger 4-door 500L sedan, says Tim Kuniskis, head of the brand in the region.
“Got to have something for everybody,” Kuniskis says near a display of the 500L at the auto show here. "We have three cars now, and more vehicles are coming."
The expanded lineup results in part from’s decision to create dealerships separate from U.S. partner ’s established stores.
"We could have put the Fiat 500 in Dodge showrooms and sold it there, but we decided to stand alone and have 200 dealers sell our products,” Kuniskis says, “and with 200 dealers the Fiat 500 is not enough product for our showrooms. So we need more cars and bigger cars.”
The 500L will go on sale by the end of June, but Kuniskis won’t divulge whether any of the newcomers also will be derivatives of the A-segment 500.
“Just say more cars, from low-priced to Gucci,” he says. “Will they be cars now sold in Europe? Don't know. But we have now added a second Fiat platform, the longer L, just two years after we started selling in the U.S.
“Buyers have been asking for bigger cars, saying they love the (500) when they see it, but wish it was just a bit larger. We just won't get too big. Fiat will never (market) a really big car, never a pickup or big SUV.
“It wouldn't make sense because we have other vehicles in the family for that, and 175 of our 200 Fiat dealers also own a Jeep, Dodge,or Ram store.”
Kuniskis does not specify a target audience for the 500L sedan version of the 2-door Fiat 500 coupe: “Can't call it. There are no specific demographics, nothing about average age and average income.
“Only 12% of trades (by Fiat 500 buyers) are small Chevy Sonics or Sparks orFiestas, and 88% are Civics and larger,” he notes.
Kuniskis also declines to offer a sales forecast for 2013.
“We sold under 20,000 (in the U.S.) cars in 2011, our first year, and 44,000 in 2012. For 2013, I just want to beat what we did in 2012,” he says.
“It took Kia five years to get to 44,000 sales in the U.S., and they started out with a $4,999 Sephia. It took (’s) Mini seven years to sell 44,000 cars and didn't do it until they added the Countryman” six years after entering the market.