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Slow Fiat 500 sales bring about layoffs at the Dundee engine plant

The Fiat 500 has not sold quite as well as the company had expected prior to the launch and reports are indicating that the company will be laying off some of the workers who build the Fiat’s 1.4L MultiAir engine for the North American market.

Heading into 2011, Fiat and the Chrysler Group expected to move around 50,000 examples of the sporty little Italian subcompact but due to a slow rollout possibly caused by excessive requirements cast upon the dealerships. Marketing efforts were slow to follow the launch and in many cases, American consumers went months without realizing that the Fiat 500 was on sale. Because of those and other variables, Fiat has moved just 16,000 units through the first 10 full months of the year – far short of the annual sales goals. Reports indicate that the company currently has about a 184 day supply while actual sales numbers by dealership show some dealers as selling as few as 49 examples of the 500 this year while the stronger Fiat dealerships have sold in the area of 370 vehicles.

Due to the slow sales of the Fiat 500, the company has more 1.4L MultiAir engines than they need so the company has plans to lay off a currently undisclosed number of workers at the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee Michigan. According to Chrysler, only 30 workers will be laid off while the UAW believes that the number is closer to 100. Chrysler has also said that roughly 35 workers will be reassigned to other tasks around the plant until the abundance of engines has been depleted.

The good news is that Fiat has recently launched a new advertising campaign that features American Idol judge American Idol, showing her cruising around being “Jenny from the block” in a new Fiat 500 Convertible. On top of that, the North American market will soon get their hands on the high performance Abarth version with this new model set to debut later this week at the 2011 LA Auto Show. Next, Fiat plans to introduce the electric version of the 500 Coupe for the 2013 model year.

Even though the Fiat 500 may not reach the sales goals expected earlier this year, the Chrysler Group is happy with the current progress made by the new subcompact and with more marketing planned for the coming year; those laid off employees could get their jobs back once the production of the engine picks back up.

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The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee will debut in LA
The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket headed to LA
The Dodge Challenger SRT8 ACR drops at SEMA 2011

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Source: Automotive News