By any definition, the Fiat 500 is already a success. The retro-chic Italian two-door has only been on sale since March, and already Chrysler has delivered 3141 hatchbacks and convertibles into the open arms of loving owners. The fact that the 500 is doing well isn’t perhaps that shocking. However, what may be is the fact that Texas — long a market dominated by trucks whose statures and capacities almost dwarf all but the biggest of earthmover — is proving to be a hotspot for the Italian subcompact.
In a recent interview with Wards’ Auto, Fiat North America exec Laura Soave revealed the 500′s popularity is skyrocketing in Texas. In her words, the 500 “Is still kicking butt” in the Lone Star State.
At first glance, the state long known for the “bigger is better” mentality is perhaps the last place one would expect a small, cutesy European retrocar to succeed. Still, a few factors do help explain what appears to be sheer irony. Texas is the country’s second largest state by population, and also is home to three of the United States’ ten largest cities (Houston is fourth on the list; San Antonio and Dallas rank seventh and ninth, respectively). Small cars — like the 500 — tend to make more sense in large cities like these. We also can’t help but think that young, affluent, trendy consumers frequently found in such areas are attracted to the 500′s style and charisma — and that those in Austin may dig the car simply because it helps “keep Austin weird.”
One other surprise: despite our country’s apparent dislike of manual transmissions, the take rate for 500s equipped with such a gearbox is trending at 50 percent. Perhaps part of this is due to early shipments consisting primarily of manual-transmission cars, but is there a chance Americans aren’t too lazy to juggle three pedals?
Source: Wards Auto