Three trim levels (which Fiat calls “Versions”) are coming to dealer showrooms in March. Leftlane reports that “about 50 of Fiat’s planned 130 dealerships” will then be open, the rest coming online by year’s end.
We think the car will catch on immediately, because it offers a style no competitor can match, 30/38 mpg fuel economy with the manual transmission, and a base price of $15,500 very well equipped. According to all the reviews, it’s fun to drive and has balance, agility and handling, if not gobs of power.
Fiat is not marketing this car to be a big seller; instead, it’s a spearhead into the U.S. market. No noisy national campaigns, but lots of social media and lifestyle marketing to diverse segments will generate, Fiat hopes, sales of “about 120,000 cars in North America during its first year.” We don’t have projections for U.S. sales, but this figure seems somewhat optimistic.
The MINI has been a great success for BMW, and it’s a terrific (though overpriced) car. The styling is getting old, however – very old. And its marketing is, well, childish and ineffective.
The big problem for MINI in competing with the 500 will be price—the Cooper in basic trim starts about $4,000 higher than the base 500—and an old style competing with (for Americans) a new and smart style.
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