Manchester, arrest for theft of pavement from

Making this week one to note in your journals, dear readers, is the double whammy of the demise of the Fiat Punto and VW Beetle.

No more of these, please.

You can find the background to the Punto’s demise here. Fiatgroupsworld reported it here. And you can find a report here as well. Naturally we covered these seismic events here. VW of Oneonta reports the Beetle’s demise here. How many of you have been to Oneonta, by the way? I have! The Sacramento Bee reports the Beetle’s end this way: click thisThis is a report from a UK source. And Autocropley reflects on the car’s life and times by making the decision to publish this item.

2017 Fiat Grand Punto: source

As you can see from the datelines on the articles, the “double-whammy” could be called contrived. Both cars have been marked down for execution for a while. Autocropley just happened to report on both things in the one week.

2018 VW Beetle: source

The venerable UK-based, Haymarket-owned, Teddington-situated weekly car magazine devoted most space to the largely irrelevant Beetle. They even went for a memorial drive in a Beetle. The poor old Punto merely got a few lines buried on page eight million and three of their bit of the Internet. They didn´t use it as an excuse to drive around Sicily for one last time either. That shows the Punto isn´t a mattery car while the Beetle is. Yet and yet and more yet: few will miss the Beetle (see this) because VW didn’t design it to serve a big part of the market.

Few will miss the Punto because FCA gave up on its market position, a worse crime.

The tireless staff at Carsalesbase report the Punto and Beetle chalking up respective 4000 and 1000 sales in July of this year.  To put those numbers in perspective (by which I only mean to allow a comparison of the data to allow their fuller evaluation) the Ford Fiesta managed to garner 25,000 sales in July. Even the Suzuki Celerio managed 2000 sales and it’s a very plain proposition indeed.

As a counterpoint, you could say FCA made loads of sales of other vehicles that do all that a Punto can do. Sort of. True, the 500X managed 5000 sales in July; the 500L managed about the same. They are related so that means about 10,000 monthly sales for the same platform. However, to show what that means so as to afford a better understanding of that number, the Opel Corsa achieved 22,000 sales in July of 2018.

2018 Opel Corsa: Car Sales Base

So, the counterpoint doesn’t carry a lot of weight, I say.  Yes, the Corsa is a decent, affordable, practical, efficient, useful, safe and handsome car but is still not much more than a thorough facelift of a 2006 vehicle. Despite that  it stills sells at twice the volume of the two models FCA have put up in the smallish-car class.

Which brings me to the car I am not talking about, the New/Beetle. For VW the Beetle amounted to a bit of publicity, a corporate gesture, an expression of a hope that maybe people liked Beetle-shaped cars still. Unlike the Golf, it isn’t a mainstream product whereas the Punto very much should have been. The small car market amounts to 8% of European sales and Fiat used to be a major player. Not any more.

Having said all that, the demise of the Punto is truly something to reflect on (we gave it two whole articles) whereas the demise of the Beetle is the ending of something one didn´t care too much about anyway, like a TV series long past its prime. Fiat ending the Punto is like Levi´s giving up on 501s.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

6 thoughts on “Manchester, arrest for theft of pavement from”

  1. These cars have razor-thin profit margins. As much as I like B-segment cars, they’re hard to make profitable. Pretty sure that’s part of the reason why the Fiesta and Corsa are really just heavy reskins of the old cars. What’s the point of an all-new Punto when you’ll likely never make a cent on any of them?

    The Beetle is also cancelled here in the US, the only market where it sold with any sort of strong numbers.

    1. The B-segment car can only turn a profit with large volumes. It is something of an all-or-nothing game. Fiat decided it didn´t want to put 1.2 billion into a car that might be number 5 or 9 in the sales charts. If Ford, VW and PSA can keep their cars in the top five they will probably get to own that market as long as people want a smaller car.
      VW maybe thought the Beetle would do them what the Mini did for BMW. And it didn´t, all. There´s an MBA dissertation to be written there.

  2. Incidentally: How many facelifts did the 501s receive?

    In defense of Celerio: It might not be a thrilling proposition, but it is a supremely sensible one, like most of Suzuki’s lineup.

  3. It could be the subliminal suggestion effect, but I’ve noticed a large number of mainly quite old Punti of this generation around my locality recently. The original, pre any facelift job was a class piece of design and very Giugiaro to my eyes. The notable thing is that it has real visual solidity and yet a good degree of verve about it. If it was a VW, it would have sold like crazy – the original Golf Plus does remind me of it from (form and volumes not details).

    Given that the NCAP score was 0, how come the very similarly platformed Corsa does so much better?

    Finally, when we bought the used 500 last year, a basic, white Punto skulked in a corner of the showroom at the daftly cheap price of £7k. It was new but pre-registered. The sales guy told me they could not give it away. I was tempted – it provides much more practicality than the 500 and must be a more mature drive. However, the family thought it dull and ordinary in comparison – there you go you see, people don’t want good, practical and ordinary cars any more, they want something extra …

  4. Sorry but the Corsa is a dog and I can only assume GME were propping up sales by pumping them into hire car fleets and the like.

    I would question the sanity of anyone who bought one with their own cash, given the excellent alternatives on offer.

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