Biggest Product Flops of 2011: FIAT 500 and Chevy Volt?

December 30th, 2011

New Coke was a product flop. Bic disposable underwear was a product flop. I won’t even mention the Ford Edsel.

But the new FIAT 500 and Chevy Volt?

Yahoo! Finance has determined, perhaps as nothing more than a way to generate year-end web traffic, that those two new cars were some of the biggest product flops of 2011, right up there with Qwikster.

Yes, sales have been a disappointment, but calling them flops is a bit unfair and premature. Well, for one car, anyway.

Before it went on sale here, Chrysler hoped the small-but-cute FIAT 500 would top 50,000 sales in 2011. That was a crazy-high estimate and compared to that goal, the 500 indeed failed. But… the car did manage to find 20,000 new owners, which is pretty good considering a terrible ad campaign and problems setting up the dealer network.

As time goes on, and gas prices go up, I think the 500 will find its niche here and do well.

The Volt is a different story.

Chevrolet wanted to sell 10,000 Volts in 2011, which seemed like a reasonable goal. However, the company still has 4,000 unsold Volts in stock. Granted, dealers in all 50 states have only been selling Volts for all of three months, so sales are likely to pick up, but probably not to the tune of hitting 45,000 units in 2012, as GM hopes.

The investigation into battery fires by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t help matters, and will probably give potential buyers one more reason to stick with internal combustion for the foreseeable future.

All that said, though, people who own a Volt seem to love it.

Of course, New Coke had its fans, too.

Which car has a better shot at long-term success, the FIAT 500 or the Chevy Volt?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used FIAT 500
Used Chevrolet Volt

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  1. Randy
    | #1

    I’m surprised how few 500′s I see driving around here, and Chrysler headquarters is just around the corner. I suspect most of them are company cars. They did build a dealership in Birmingham, a ritzy suburb of Detroit. Maybe some of those Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills bleach blonds deperate housewives will line up to buy the absurd Gucci 500? While the mini is an attractive car, the Fiat is not. Kind of hard to sell style when it’s not attractive, especially when it’s a bit overpriced.

  2. | #2

    The Volt has potential it has just landed wearing Holden badging here and it hasnt been out 12 months yet. The fiat has been on sale for ages and is still rarely seen even in this land of $10 gas Ive said it before if youre gunna do retro make sure the original had some cachet the original 500 was crap and outside Italy not popular

  3. Paul
    | #3

    I’d vote for the Fiat. Can’t stand that little car and I’ve always been a fan of Italian stylin. Even hot J Lo can’t make it look good!

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