With the arrival of the new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider this coming month, the affordable rear-wheel-drive convertible roadster market expands to two offerings. Both are made side by side in Hiroshima Japan and share most of their mechanical bits aside from drivetrains. They are also similarly priced, so the Fiat is not at a financial disadvantage. Both are a blast to drive according to legions of reviewers. Which will sell better in the coming year?
Some credit the Fiat 124 Spider for saving the Miata. We think that is a stretch, but it certainly helped justify an all-new generation (the ND), rather than a drivetrain update and refresh of the styling. Selling basically the same car under more than one brand name works for every automaker as long as that isn’t taken too far (Saturn, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, and maybe Lincoln). Our inquiry is mostly for fun, but with the Fiat about to launch, it is worth considering. We honestly don’t know of any arrangement between the two automakers that would limit the Fiat’s sales.
The answer from our vantage point is the Miata will sell better - by far. The cards are stacked against the Fiat for three main reasons. First, the Mazda dealer network is significantly larger than Fiat’s. People do shop locally for new vehicles to some degree, and Mazda has long been established in the U.S. Both are small compared to the Big 3 (Toyota, GM, and Ford), but Mazda is the bigger footprint. (More on Page 2)
Second, the Miata has a huge, loyal following right now. There are multiple Mazda Miata clubs on FB with many thousands of fans. So many that some clubs have had little civil wars and split up into smaller clubs with more focus. The Fiat 124 Spider 2017 Club on FB has just 51 members. I will say, though that it is a great club and its members are not just physically attractive, but also intelligent (Full disclosure - I started that club last year).
- Curious about which is faster? Read This.
Mazda also has a huge racing community in the U.S., and they need cars now and for the future. Racing uses up cars and parts of cars and becomes a self-feeding system over time. Spec Miata and other clubs race Miatas all over the country, and many say it is the most raced car in America.
Fiat reported sales of 1 (one) Fiat Spider in June of this year and the big parking lots full of Spiders will be distributed to dealers by the end of July (and immediately recorded by FCA as a “sale” – click here for more on that). By December the Fiat 124 Spider early adopters will have theirs and by late spring of 2017, we will know if the Spider sells as well as the Miata or better. We’re rooting for both to grow together!