The Trump administration "will take a look" after billionaire investor Peter Thiel said the FBI and CIA should see if Chinese intelligence has infiltrated Google.Technologyread more
On Monday, the first day of Amazon's 48-hour shopping extravaganza this year, retailers that make more than $1 billion in annual revenues saw a 64% increase in their digital...Retailread more
Builder confidence for single-family homes rose just one point to 65 in July, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI)....Real Estateread more
Dimon is making his own bet on a digital coin that could transform the global payments landscape: JPM Coin.Financeread more
Expectations for lower interest rates and less fear about tariffs sent investors back into the market and set up what could be a profitable run ahead.Marketsread more
Southwest Airlines is delaying pilot hiring and captain upgrades with no end in sight to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.Airlinesread more
The U.S. and China have restarted their trade talks, but signs are showing a deal could be even harder to reach now.Marketsread more
The Federal Reserve's expected interest rate cuts appears to have impacted J.P. Morgan's forecast for 2019 net interest income.Financeread more
A crop of long-awaited technology companies coming to the public market this year created a "frothy" period, Bernstein said on TuesdayInvestingread more
GE hasn't had a year this good during this millennium. After that massive surge, one trader is warning investors to stay away.Trading Nationread more
Credit card sales volume rose 11% this quarter and merchant processing volume increased 12%, the bank says in its earnings statement.Banksread more
Fiat faces a difficult future in the U.S., less than a decade after an attempted comeback.
The Italian car brand and arguable style icon is suffering from extremely low sales in a market that has less and less interest in the tiny cars that has made it famous.
In 2018, Fiat sold more than 15,000 cars in the U.S., down from a high in 2014 of over 46,000. When the brand had first returned to the U.S. in 2010 after a 27-year absence, Fiat Chrysler and the late Sergio Marchionne, who served as CEO, had hoped to sell 50,000 Fiats in the country in its first year.
At the center of that strategy was the Fiat 500, a small but stylish city car that was invented in the years following World War II as a practical car for the masses of Europe. Over the years, the 500 has become something of a legend of automotive design, even earning a spot in the Museum of Modern Art's collection in New York.
"I think [Marchionne] wanted the Fiat 500 to be the Volkswagen Beetle of the Fiat brand," said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive. "It has a history, it has a cult following to a degree. It is not just another small car. The brand wanted to connect with those buyers who remember the history of the 500."
But it did not have a Beetle-like impact.
It didn't help that Fiat's vehicles earned less-than-stellar reviews and ratings from groups such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, and the U.S. auto market made an unprecedented shift toward pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.
Fiat Chrysler has repeatedly said it doesn't plan to abandon Fiat in the U.S.
"In North America, we continue to offer an attainable, all-turbo lineup of Italian-designed, fun-to-drive cars that get at least 30 [miles per gallon]," FCA representative Bryan Zvibleman said in an interview. "As outlined in our five-year plan last year, Fiat (together with Chrysler and Dodge) will get 25% of investment spend and will represent 20% of net revenues. In fact, we just launched our new Fiat 500X compact CUV/SUV. The compact CUV/SUV segment is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry."
He added that Fiat's results in quality surveys continue to be skewed by limited models and sample sizes, as was the case in the recently released 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study that did not include the brand in industry rankings.
Fiat's survival in the U.S. seems unlikely, said Jon Gabrielsen, an economist who advises automakers and suppliers. In 2018, FCA sold 4 times as many Jeeps in Europe as Fiat and fellow Italian import Alfa Romeo sold in the U.S. It is unlikely any of the variants of the 500 will survive in the U.S. or Canada, he added.
One way FCA could save Fiat is by turning it into an electrified city car brand, said Schuster. The company already markets the 500e, an electric version of the 500. Both Europe and the U.S. are moving toward electric and hybrid vehicles over the long term, but the size and price point of Fiat's lineup makes it hard to see how they can grow much in sales.
"So I think the outlook is still very limited, and I think it is really hard to sustain volume, even if you got it back up to 20,000 or 25,000 units," he said. "... I think the possibility of Fiat pulling out of the U.S. is there."