FIAT is going through very bad times
right now. It's been struck by an economical crisis
, caused by many reasons that I tend to simplify with the simple
sentence "We ain't making enough money to keep going on".
What strikes me as odd is that everybody is asking themselves why is FIAT not making enough money, when the answer is under everybody's noses (seen as here in Italy we have FIATs just about everywhere): FIAT cars are crap. Even the cheapest Peugeot leaves any model of FIAT way, way behind.
People seem to be wisening up to this, and are buying less FIATs and more foreign-brand cars.
So why are FIATs crap?
They are built shoddily: no FIAT car can go for more than two years without developing the characteristic "birds chirping" sound, which reminds you, everytime you encounter a small irregularity on the road, of how every single part of the body is trying its best to separate itself from the others.
They look bad, and they go worse. The Multipla is quite possibly the ugliest car ever devised by a human mind (makes you wonder if it's actually been designed by a human mind). The Punto has a fault in the power steering: when you're maneuvering, it has the nasty habit of locking up, thus making turning the steering wheel harder than it'd be without any helping mechanism. Everything FIAT has done to date in regard to this was add in the owner's manual that the problem exists. Which, loosely translated, means: "We know about it, but we have no intention of fixing it. Tough, live with it".
User service is very lacking. When other brands will, when they discover a fault in the car model, repair it quickly and for free, FIAT will do nothing, except in very rare cases (i.e., when the fault could actually cause physical harm, and expose them to lawsuit risk. See the exhaust infiltrations in the cockpit on the Duna).
Plans to recover from the crisis involve either allowing the government to help with funding in exchange for having its hands in the business, or selling most of the brand to General Motors.
Perhaps when GM takes over FIAT will start producing cars worth something.