The Tata-FIAT sales/service alliance is nearing its end now, as the two companies are parting ways and FIAT is coming up with its own sales network, while retaining the production JV.
But in order to survive in the competitive Indian market with nearly all global players making big plans to operate in the market, FIAT might find it tough to make way. The overall quality and dynamics of the FIAT cars are undoubtedly good and regarded, but the overall persona of the brand in India is not all that great. People still have their doubts about parts availability and servicing of their vehicles.
Although I am personally very well connected with the dealers across brands but still when a jerk hit my Linea T-Jet in a crowded lane, it took the dealer around 50 days to source all the parts needed to make the replacement of the passenger side door. Although I love Fiat cars in India and have driven them thoroughly well and would recommend them to anyone but with a caution about certain time lag that one might face in case of spare parts.
Just got some good info on what one should expect from Fiat going forward, The Company is right now working on finalizing its standalone dealer network for sales and service of its vehicles, and plans to come up with around 80-120 FIAT Caffe’s to fuel its growth plans and is in the process of finalizing dealership locations and appointing new dealers.
The company is working on a compact SUV based on the Punto platform, and the news about the same has been buzzing across media, but apart from that the company is looking at a lot of other vehicles to make a formidable line-up for India. So listing down a few cars that we might be able to see making debut in India in the later part of 2013:
Fiat Uno: Uno was discontinued in India way back but it continues to sell in a few international markets. Fiat launched a new Uno in 2010. With its rugged design, tall-boy looks along with that practicality factor we Indians buy WagonRs for, this might be Fiat’s entry level hatch below Punto. Maybe the same might not come to us as ‘UNO’ because of the earlier model which did not do well, but, in its new avatar, this looks like a formidable vehicle for the Indian market.
Fiat Panda: We have talked about Panda earlier. Panda again looks like a pretty practical car and if Fiat plans to bring it in India, we might have a pretty big fan-following going for it.
Fiat Albea: Doesn’t the car in the pic looks familiar? Yes, some of you might say it looks like the Petra (Old Palio with a boot), and it does but considering the big chunk that entry-level sedans are notching, Albea might be an answer to all of them. Fiat can up the ante by a few niptuck jobs in the looks department and place it under Linea.
Fiat Idea: This is a capable mini-MPV and looks like a great contender for India.
Fiat Sedici: The perfect compact-SUV that Fiat might think of bringing to India to compete directly with a slew of compact SUV’s that are ready to be unleashed in the country from almost all manufacturers here.
Fiat Bravo: This is a premium segment Hatch which Fiat can place over Punto and compete with i20 or possibly higher. It has huge dimensions and very generous space inside. Since this breaches the 4 meter mark, this might not be an early comer in Fiat’s list.
I also overheard a few things about the company’s plans to retain the current generation Linea as Linea Classic once the new Linea is launched sometime late in 2013. So just hoping to see some good set of vehicles from Fiat’s Stables and I have my fingers crossed to see if the award winning sub-1 litre twinair engine makes it to India (which I feel will take time).
Fiat will intensify model hunting once their sales network setup stabilizes. Although not all the above will make it to India, but the company may consider most of the above cars for their India gameplan. Stay tuned for more and definitive information regarding what’s in the pipeline.
An Ideal Lineup
Considering the current Indian market the following Line-up would be ideal for Fiat:
- A small practical car under current Punto
- B-hatch like new Punto
- Entry Level sedan like Albea
- Premium hatch like Bravo which would more act as a brand builder
- Compact SUV
- New Linea
This way Fiat would have as many as 6 products starting right from 3.5 Lakh to 11-12 Lakh covering maximum segments and covering all tastes in India. Come on FIAT, you have fantastic products, bring them on!
Guest Writer for MotorBash