Fiat 500
Fiat 500
Fiat's reentry into the U.S. market never got out of first gear. Dealers were slow to sign up, an ad campaign featuring J. Lo flopped, and stable-to-lower gas prices failed to excite buyers. Reviewers were tough: complained about "Wait-and-see reliability; disappointing fuel economy with automatic; less cargo room than rivals." CEO Sergio Marchionne wasted little time replacing Fiat's top U.S. executive, but the damage was done. Instead of selling 50,000 cars this year, Fiat had moved only 17,444 through November. Fiat faces an even steeper uphill battle to win over U.S customers.

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated December 19 2011: 5:46 AM ET
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