My Brand of the Year is a Flop (Or Is It?)

Fiat aimed to sell 50,000 Fiat 500s in the US this year. So far, only 17,444 have been driven off of Fiat/Chrysler lots.

Online antagonists delight in those gloomy stats, saying the vehicle is way too small, way too expensive and way too Euro-pretentious to succeed in America.

As one comment-board critic howled: “Why on earth would I buy a tiny pile of crap for $25,000 when I could get a decent Camery [sic], Accord, or Sonata for around the same price?”

Adding fuel to the flamers: The head of Fiat USA was fired earlier this year due to the sub-compact’s subpar launch.

Here’s what they are all missing: The Fiat 500 is a cute, fun and sexy alternative to Smart (“too dull”) and MINI (“you see them everywhere”) for design devotees and young, urban professionals.

No, it’s not a car that most people will like; but it is one that its adoring fans love. (“Finally a car I so want to get!”)

That’s the kind of brand-oration that powers marketing success stories—and why the Fiat 500 is still my brand of the year.

MINI sold just under 25,000 cars in its first year in the US. The FIAT 500 won’t be that far behind. The brand suffers from undersized infrastructure and overblown expectations, not a lack of love.