Although the Fiat and Abarth 124 Spiders have been withdrawn from UK sale, both loss makers here, the two continue to be offered in mainland Europe and the US.
Despite sharing a platform and factory with Mazda, which assembles the 124 Spiders alongside the MX-5 upon which they’re based, these economies of scale are not enough to overcome the perils of currency fluctuations, nor the cost of shipping Fiat engines to Japan for the cars.
Sports cars are notoriously inconsistent money makers, but François’s suggestion that the brand has “no legitimacy” in this field is surprising, given the Fiat Barchetta, Coupé, X1/9, 124 Spider, 124 Coupé and 850 Spider from its past. That said, these models are far less well known than the MX-5 and BMW Z4.
Earlier this year François told Autocar that there was still interest in that segment within the brand, but it’s not vital to the ongoing revival of Fiat.
“The 124 market is a niche one,” said François. “It is profitable business for us – but only because of the joint venture. It was an opportunity and we took it. It makes money and it adds a certain cool factor.
“But I accept that such a car may not be key to the future of the brand. It is not what I’d call a pure, absolute Fiat, but for now, it remains an interesting opportunity.”