The Fiat 124 Spider and his brother the Abarth 124 Spider may have no successors. The brand wants to focus on the Fiat 500 family, as Fiat CEO Olivier François has said, in statements to Autocar. In fact, they are two models that are no longer available for sale in the United Kingdom. Both models are based on the Mazda MX-5, which is evident once you’ve got on board because its interiors (except the seats) are identical to the MX-5. In fact, Mazda manufactures them in Japan, on the same assembly line as the MX-5, and the Turin firm is limited to sending its engines and other specific elements to the 124 Spider.
Normally, developing a car between two manufacturers saves a considerable investment in the development of the car. Even so, the fact that they are manufactured in Japan, with the fluctuations of the Japanese currency and the highs that this implies (Mazda workforce, logistics) could be one of the reasons why Fiat does not want to renew them.
However, Olivier François denies it. “The 124 market is a niche market. (…) It is profitable for us, but only because there is a joint venture. It was an opportunity we took. We make money with it and add a certain cool factor, ”explained the manager before adding that it is not what he would call a real Fiat, it is a type of car and market in which Fiat has no legitimacy.
His theory is surprising when Fiat does have legitimacy in that segment. From the original 124 Spider to the Fiat Barchetta, through the Fiat X1 / 9 or 850 Spider, many are examples in the history of Fiat niche sports models. They may not be as well known in some markets, especially in North American, as is the MX-5, but the brand does enjoy legitimacy in that regard.
The real reason should be sought in the almost constant search for a new identity and guidance within FCA of its Italian brands so that the FCA group or one of those brands is interesting for a future buyer or a merger (as almost happens with Renault) And the 124 Spider is the best example of those abrupt rudder changes.
Incessant changes of course
Originally it was going to be an Alfa Romeo, but with the development work already started by Mazda, it was decided that it would be a Fiat and an Abarth. Then, although the 124 Spider combines the best of each house (Mazda finishes and manufacturing, powerful engine in Abarth, dynamism, etc.), Fiat’s pricing policy – especially in the case of Abarth – does not put them in an easy situation in the market, although both models are profitable ensures the Gallic manager.
The real reason would be, again, in a change of strategy of the Italian firm that would reinvent itself as a manufacturer of small and electric cars. Thus, Olivier François explained that in the future they will not have large, premium, or sports cars. Fiat will have only two aspects. On the one hand, there will be the family of the Fiat 500 and on the other that of “family transport” (functional cars, without more). All models presented by the brand will be between 3.50 meters and 4.50 meters long. He also added that they would remain present in segment C (like the Type), but not much longer, stressing that they need electric cars and more cars derived from the Fiat 500 with some legitimacy to increase the profit margin. Olivier François has only confirmed what has been said for some time. Fiat lives on 500, Panda and the type that sells (with little margin) to large fleets of all kinds, such as Uber or rent-a-car companies.