Pope Francis has been known for eschewing the Pope Mobile more often than tradition requires it, with the high ranking prelate also being scrutinized for his ride choices.
The highly popular Pope Francis has taken the time during his first trip to the United States to lend support to efforts to mitigate poverty, embrace immigrants or abolish the death penalty but his endorsement to the Fiat brand has also been noticed. The 78-year-old pontiff has brought the spotlight on the Fiat 500L compact cars he’s been fiddling in during the six-day tour, which includes stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. “We’ve been inundated with calls,” comments Kathy Finn, brand manager for Fiat Chrysler. “Customers are calling surprised at how spacious the car is and asking about that particular model.” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the third largest US automaker and of Italian-American descent as of last year has seen the namesake Fiat brand as the Cinderella among the highly popular Jeep, Ram and Ferrari brands.
The Fiat logo has returned to the US a few years ago but the sales of the 500L have been disappointing so far – 6,695 through August and falling 19 percent from the same period last year. The brand itself is on the collapse – the three models it has on the roster collectively lost 12 percent so far this year. Now the dealers have high hopes the Vatican marketing bump would help them alleviate some of those figures before the year ends. “The fact that the Vatican chose a Fiat 500L speaks volumes for the brand,” comments an executive at dealership in Manhattan.