Fiat Has High Expectations For Its Fiat 500x in North America

Nov 21, 2014 12:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV thinks that its yet-to-be released Fiat 500X crossover sport utility vehicle could be even more popular in North America than its 500 microcar.

Fiat will start selling the 500X during the second quarter of 2015. The vehicle was designed to appeal to consumers searching for a big car instead of the tiny, retro-styled 500, according to a report by Reuters.

"If you look at the 500, the number one reason for rejection is the size of the vehicle. We no longer have that," Jason Stoicevich, head of Fiat in North America, said in an interview during the Los Angeles Auto Show, according to the Reuters report. "Our expectations would be to outsell (the 500)."

Stoicevich failed to provide specific sales targets however.

Fiat said the 500X will launch in at least 100 different countries, though it expects to rely heavily on strong sales in the United States and Canada.

North America currently accounts for 60,000 of the automaker's 1.6 million in annual vehicle sales. Fiat's brand's global chief called that figure "marginal" at the LA show.

"In this case, the North American volumes won't be marginal," Fiat head Olivier Francois said of the 500X to Reuters.

Fiat returned to the U.S. market back in 2011 after a 16-year absence. The automaker needed just half the time it took Kia or Mini to reach the 40,000 sales mark in the U.S., according to the automaker.

Fiat 500 sales peaked in 2012 however, and dropped 18 percent last year, while overall volumes for the brand fell 1.2 percent in 2013.

Fiat feels it has a great opportunity to increase sales in the U.S. Northeast with the introduction of the 500X due to its all-wheel-drive capabilities.

Stoicevich said earlier this year that a number of potential customers who were interested in buying a Fiat were held back in these locations because of the snowy winters. The 500X could change all that.

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