Fiat recently unveiled the seven-seat retro-style 500 model, hoping that this model will attract higher-end customers and help the automaker stem losses in Europe.
The 4.35-meter-long 500L Living, is with about a meter longer compared with the classic 500, and will hit the Italian market in September with a base price of 19,200 euro.
“We expect to sell about 20,000 to 30,000 of them in Europe in the next 12 months,” said Gianluca Italia, Fiat brand chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne plans to attract more customers for the 500 model, especially as BMW’s Mini prepares to roll out new versions of the same underlying vehicle. Mass-market automakers in Europe are struggling with annual losses of billions of euro as consumers, affected by the high unemployment level, keep away from purchasing new cars.
“I don’t see any signs of a turnaround in Europe,” said Fiat-Chrysler group Chief Operating Officer Alfredo Altavilla.
Fiat is confident that the 500 family will meet greater success compared with its other mass0market vehicles, such as the Punto. Although the 500L is built on the Punto platform, it is more expensive and it’s the only vehicle in the world which offers an optional on-board espresso machine.
“The strategy of leveraging the 500 brand awareness and like-ability should work out well for them,” said Tim Urquhart, Senior Analyst at IHS Automotive in London.
Fiat plans to manufacture between 110,000 and 150,000 units of the 500L model, at the plant in Serbia. During the first five months of the year the automaker sold 30,000 500L vehicles in Europe and 75,000 units since the 500L was launched in September 2012.