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.
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 this. This 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.
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.
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.
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.