Honestly, this doesn’t come as that much of a surprise. The rush to embrace SUVs and crossovers was already gaining momentum when Fiat introduced the revived 500 subcompact to the North American market in 2007. Yes, it made a splash, because Fiat would go on to take over Chrysler, and the brand was making its return to these shores after a decades-long absence. Dealers lined up to acquire Fiat franchises and the bulk of them built new showrooms in which to sell and service the tiny cars. But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ announcement that it will cease North American production of the 500 underscores that anchoring a car company with a tiny, quirky, and admittedly cute automobile isn’t a long-term formula for success. FCA acknowledged as much by declaring that 500 production will cease at its Toluca, Mexico, assembly plant and discontinue the model once the 2019 inventory is sold out, probably sometime next year.
The dropping of the axe means we can say goodbye to interesting, if still small, goodies like the 500 Abarth pictured above and the cabriolet version, as well. FCA has endeavored to put a good spin on this by assuring that Fiat dealers will remain active, selling the Cinquecento-based 500L and 500X crossovers, plus the 124 Spider, which is built in Japan alongside the Mazda MX-5 Miata, upon which it’s largely based.