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Discussion Starter #1
I sent the following email to FCA customer service today:

Hi Clorissa,


Thank you for the response. It's nice to hear my comments will be passed along to the product planning team. Given that, I hope you'll pass along this email too.


I have to stress that buying a car is no small decision in my household; especially when it comes to a sports car. I analyze all current available models on the market in a number of price ranges, I consider future competitive models offered by different manufacturers, and I consider what's available on the used market in my price ranges. After all my research I decided a new Abarth 124 Spider was the car for me.


After I had my mind set that the Abarth was the car for me, I learned that the US spec Abarth 124 Spider was lacking many of the characteristics that caught my interest. Some of those things are:


-The red stripe steering wheel w/Abarth center logo
-Abarth seats
-Abarth fender badges
-Suede or alcantara interior trim
-Red exterior accents
-Plaque on storage bin door
-Abarth branded engine cover


I understand the heart of the car (the 1.4 liter turbo engine) is still there, but I believe even that has been de-tuned to 164 HP compared to the 170 HP the rest of the world is getting. I feel as though the North American market was an afterthought and the version of the Abarth 124 Spider that was sent here is a watered down version of what the car is supposed to be. Based on what I've read on forums, I'm not alone.


Because the North American model lacks so much of the Abarth DNA, I am now questioning if it's the right car for me. This is frustrating because as I said at the beginning of this email, buying a sports car is no small decision for me. I took a lot of time coming to my decision that I wanted an Abarth 124 Spider. I really felt as though the Abarth 124 was the car for me until I realized I'd have to "customize" it just to make it the stock version the rest of the world gets. I work in supply chain management and I'm baffled that this is a more cost effective way to produce a car in a single factory (having different trim of the same car just because you're on a different continent). I realize some changes are necessary due to different laws or which side the steering wheel goes on, but mirror caps? Engine cover? "Abarth" embroidered on the seats? Fender badges? Etc. Come on. The more standardized you can make these cars, the better.


I have to stress that if the pure version of the Abarth 124 Spider was available to me today, I'd have a deposit on one right now. But now....I just don't know. I really hope you'll bring the real Abarth 124 Spider to the North American market soon so I can buy the car I fell in love with.


Thank you for considering my message.


Ken
 

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Hey Ken, well worded. If I may, I have a few points to make.

The US Abarth appears to be notably cheaper than the European Abarth when compared to the Lusso or Classica. I was personally surprised by how small the price premium was from a base Lusso to a base Abarth, given how much you're getting for it. I believe those are the reason for the lack of particular features.

The power ratings are most likely the result of US emissions specifications, which always seem to have an effect on power throughput. That's not really something they can do something about.

Just a thought...members are already going through the process of obtaining the European Abarth pieces that their vehicle is missing. It's certainly an option. After driving one, I knew I had to have it.

I'm curious what kind of response you'll get from them.

Oh, and welcome to 124Spider.org!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the response. I'll post the reply from FCA.

I realize the HP rating is probably EPA related. I was just using that as further ammo that we're getting a "lesser" version than the rest of the world.

I also noticed that the price isn't outrageous for the Abarth model here in the US. After buying a number of motorcycles over the past decade, I gave up on trying to figure out manufacturer pricing on each continent. Most motorcycles I've purchased over the years vary significantly less from continent to continent (speaking in terms of trim or accessories), yet the pricing varies drastically more from continent to continent than typical cars. Here in the US, the 124 competes with the MX-5. The Abarth model still prices out a bit higher than a fully decked out MX-5 Club. The MX-5 Club is the Abarth's closest competition. The non-NA Abarth has a lot of special features and I definitely think it warrants the higher price tag. Our NA version is missing a lot. I'd like to see FCA give us the car they're giving everyone else.
 

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Thanks for the response. I'll post the reply from FCA.

I realize the HP rating is probably EPA related. I was just using that as further ammo that we're getting a "lesser" version than the rest of the world.

I also noticed that the price isn't outrageous for the Abarth model here in the US. After buying a number of motorcycles over the past decade, I gave up on trying to figure out manufacturer pricing on each continent. Most motorcycles I've purchased over the years vary significantly less from continent to continent (speaking in terms of trim or accessories), yet the pricing varies drastically more than cars. Here in the US, the 124 competes with the MX-5. The Abarth model still prices out a bit higher than a fully decked out MX-5 Club. The MX-5 Club is the Abarth's closest competition. The non-NA Abarth has a lot of special features and I definitely think it warrants the higher price tag. Our NA version is missing a lot. I'd like to see FCA give us the car they're giving everyone else.
The margins on this car are really very small, likely because it's part Mazda. The Abarth has acoustic glass, more floor insulation, and fog lights, which the MX-5 doesn't have, just for starters. Also, a fully decked out MX-5 doesn't quite have the same features that the Abarth has. When comparing actual options, they're pretty similarly priced.

I understand what you're saying though. We aren't quite getting the full Abarth experience. I see it every time I sit behind a steering wheel that says "Fiat." That is quickly forgotten once I start the engine though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I understand the pricing thing. I also get that a lot of the missing pieces could be added after-market. And if that's my only option, then I may ultimately decide to go that route. It's just that I feel we shouldn't have to when the rest of the world gets a lot more.

Personally, I'd be willing to pay a little more and get those things and have them covered by my warranties rather than have to add them after-market and deal with installing them or paying someone to install them. Also, it would be very expensive to add the "Abarth" embroidered seats. I know it's a small detail, but it would be nice if FCA just included these things with the car....again, even if the price was a little higher. How about a Euro package?
 

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I agree; it's a hassle to do it yourself and still not get the complete package in the end. It seems we always get a neutered down version of whatever Europe gets. Oh well. I still love my Abarth. I'll send you a PM shortly on a detail you might be interested in.
 

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Can the difference in horsepower be attributed, fully or partly, to American emissions standards? Europe has ever-tightening pollution standards, I'm assuming at least similar to our EPA. I'm certainly not well versed on the topic, but are these regulations different enough to account for the horsepower difference? Or is (part of) the difference found in fuel grading and the engine's computer compensating for octane differences between the continents?

I'm more curious than concerned. I realize at country cruising speeds the engine will be developing but a fraction of that peak HP as I'm out meandering and conversing with the cows.

Anyway, interesting points about the differences based on geography. It sure makes you wonder what it is the bean counters and marketing folks are thinking. Hopefully Satchmo will gain some insight.

While I'm thinking of it, my last curiosity (which could be a separate thread, I guess) is how the Spider buying market seems so keyed into making sure "Abarth" is a separate brand from Fiat, more so it seems than even Fiat makes it out to be. Same general body and undercarriage, same general engine and drivetrain, same overall appearance. A few extra suspension bits, different exhaust parts, engine computer commands, a limited slip rear diff., a few body cosmetics, and so forth, but not a drastically different automobile from its Spider siblings. It's still a Fiat Spider. I don't see it having so much exclusivity to be a stand-alone brand name. Chev/Buick/Caddy may share basic underpinnings but they are notably different enough, mostly, to be different brands. Can't say I agree with Abarth vs. Lusso and Classica. Abarth, Lusso, and Classica, the 124 Spider collection. Just observations, nothing I lose sleep over.

Steve.
 

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Stevet, I think the Abarth brand is stronger in Europe. I have not seen any Abarth presence in the USA. Let me know if there is one. The 500 has a strong aftermarket, but not "Abarth".
My dealer is clueless. Ball caps seem to be his gesture to the Abarth and 124 cars.
FCA needs to wake up.
Regards
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm sure th HP difference is due to regulations, emissions standards, etc. I was referencing the difference in power to further emphasize that the N.A. version of the Abarth 124 is watered down. FCA may not be able to do much about that. I'm not going to lose sleep over 6 HP.

As for brand separation from Fiat, if the launch model that first was shown in Europe had the Fiat badge on the wheel, no red stripe on steering wheel, no embroidered seats, no fender badges, no Abarth branded engine cover, no red exterior accents, alcantara interior, etc. I wouldn't have an issue right now. Fiat/Abarth thought those things were important enough to put on the European/Asian/Australian cars, but then made a conscious decision to remove those things for the N.A. market. And BTW, I never found any press releases or anything that indicated the N.A. models would differ. People started receiving their cars and they were missing the cool bits and were like, where's my stuff???

I think that's deceiving.

That would be like you hitting it off with some girl at a bar who has a big set of you-know-whats only to get her back to your place and find out it was a padded push-up bra with silicone inserts. I'm sure you'd be a little letdown.

FCA needs to know their decision to not give us all the goodies is disappointing their current and prospective customers.

Also, something to note is that in other coutries the non-Abarth 124 spiders are significantly less powerful. I think they're about 140 HP. In N.A., the Fiat and Abarth 124s are much closer in power (4 HP difference). I think that's even more reason to have the other bits on the Abarth to further differentiate it and make it something unique and special.
 

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Mark my words I bet you Fiat will increase the HP in the 2018-19 models, and Abarth logo on the Steering wheel and engine cover. They need to add little things here and there every 2 years, 2018 will stay the same.
 

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For informational purposes, I will add that when comparing the US Abarth 124 to the EU Abarth 124, in regards to the ECU calibration and tuning parameters, they are nearly identical in performance. I believe the difference in "advertised" HP rating has a lot to do with marketing, and interpretation of power numbers (for example, they may be rounding the record monza exhaust in those numbers for the EU model).

There are actually some instances in the calibration where the EU Abarth 124 has slightly less performance, even when compared to our regular Fiat 124 Spider. I've compared all of these files side by side. So in regards to performance, we're definitely not getting anything watered down.

As for the the other bits, I completely agree. They should have gone full Abarth with the US version. FCA North America needs to educate their reps and promote the Abarth brand/heritage more than they are, and follow up with the correct trim options and quality that makes Abarth so unique and special. They will be more successful if they do this.
 

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Just a thought...my Abarth, with Safety & Comfort package, and GAP insurance, was under $30k out the door, including tax, title, license, documentation fee, everything.

How much would a "true" Abarth cost USD if they added all the extra bits, especially compared to its direct competitor, the MX-5? Americans don't understand all this "Abarth-ness" just like they don't quite understand the allure of a hot hatchback. The general public just...doesn't get it.

I had a similar issue over on the Cruze community. We all wanted a Cruze SS with a 2.0L Turbo and some other go-fast bits, and I was even able to communicate those wishes directly to the marketing director for GM small cars, but GM still has no plans to release a performance variant of that car.

In the US, it seems American car companies do as much as they can to dull the edges of otherwise sharp cars; quiet the exhaust down a bit so it's not as offensive, soften the steering so people don't have to do any work, etc. If Fiat offered a true Abarth in the US, how many people would buy it, or even understand it? Can't tell you how many people I had tell me I should have bought the MX-5 because it has better 0-60 and 1/4 mile times on paper.
 

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Thanks for the response. I'll post the reply from FCA.

I realize the HP rating is probably EPA related. I was just using that as further ammo that we're getting a "lesser" version than the rest of the world.

I also noticed that the price isn't outrageous for the Abarth model here in the US. After buying a number of motorcycles over the past decade, I gave up on trying to figure out manufacturer pricing on each continent. Most motorcycles I've purchased over the years vary significantly less from continent to continent (speaking in terms of trim or accessories), yet the pricing varies drastically more from continent to continent than typical cars. Here in the US, the 124 competes with the MX-5. The Abarth model still prices out a bit higher than a fully decked out MX-5 Club. The MX-5 Club is the Abarth's closest competition. The non-NA Abarth has a lot of special features and I definitely think it warrants the higher price tag. Our NA version is missing a lot. I'd like to see FCA give us the car they're giving everyone else.
I keep reading that our Abarths are "Cheaper" then they are in Europe... The price here is based on the North American market, exchange rates, the income of perspective buyers, and what the market will bear. If Fiat thought that the market will bear a higher price, we would pay a higher price.

That said, I would gladly buy an Abarth that is like the ones sold in Europe for 3 or 4 thousand dollars more. I will spend that much trying to get it close to the Euro Spec anyway.
 

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Fiat has to be competitive with whatever else the market offers. It's prime competitor here in the US is the Miata... So from a pricing perspective it can't be that much more expensive than it's prime competitor. If adding the Euro Bits to the Abarth increased the price by $3000, car would lose some sales to it's Japanese cousin. Personally as much as I love the car, at $3-4K more, I'd go Miata or with another comparatibaly used car like BMW-Z4.


Now some of the stuff should have no significant cost. For example, Red paint on the Mirrors should cost no more than Black Painted Mirrors.
 

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Just a thought...my Abarth, with Safety & Comfort package, and GAP insurance, was under $30k out the door, including tax, title, license, documentation fee, everything.

Americans don't understand all this "Abarth-ness" just like they don't quite understand the allure of a hot hatchback. The general public just...doesn't get it.
Sure they do-it's a popular segment.
 

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How much would a "true" Abarth cost USD if they added all the extra bits, especially compared to its direct competitor, the MX-5? Americans don't understand all this "Abarth-ness" just like they don't quite understand the allure of a hot hatchback. The general public just...doesn't get it.
This is true. The US market has missed out on some of the greatest affordable performance cars in the form of Euro hot-hatches from Ford Europe, Peugeot and Renault. I blame the Ford Pinto.
 
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