Fiat is one of the least selling car manufacturers in India despite their really long stint here. And this, despite their fantastic cars which look gorgeous and are technically potent as well.
So, there must be something which is limiting their progress here in India. It is their attitude and lack of interest for our market. They showed real character when they broke up with Tata and took over the charge for complete sales of Fiat cars including distributorship, marketing and service.
They called the entire media to a press conference back in December 2012 and officially shared their upcoming roadmap which claimed as many as 11 new car launches from their stables till 2016, introduction of the performance Abarth brand and the official confirmation of Jeep branded SUVs.
Let us list a few slides from the 2012 Roadmap:
11 Launches & Launch Time Frames till 2016
Introduction of JEEP
With a lot of hype and tantrums, Fiat started testing their Jeep branded vehicles here in India. There were a lot of spyshots that came in from all corners of the country. Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as Wrangler were projected to be launched here. However, Fiat stopped short of launching Jeep citing ‘slow market conditions’ as the reason.
Interestingly, this is the same market which is seeing luxury manufacturers record 10,000 unit sales a year. German manufacturers are bringing their international models here in India as soon as they are unveiled internationally and Jeep sees ‘very less demand’?
Introduction of 1.6L Multijet Diesel
This is the most important promise that has been broken. If you look at the sheet, it clearly lists the 1.6TD (turbo-diesel) along with the 1.4L T Gas (turbo gasoline). The 1.6 TD is nothing else than the 1.6L Multijet diesel which was NOT launched on the Fiat Linea. Instead, what we saw was the regular 1.3L MJD from the older Linea.
The point of writing this post is not to showcase Fiat in a negative way. All we want to say is – if they were not ready to deliver, then they should not have promised.
The biggest point we want to make is, if you are down the doldrums, you need to take bold and challenging steps to ensure you get noticed and once when you get noticed (for all the good reasons), you can build upon that hype with your sales, services, promotions and other means.
Linea facelift is one of the best looking cars in the segment. All Fiat needed was the 1.6L MJD, as promised and I am sure they would have received a bolstering response! They would have taken the first mover advantage and apart from potentially higher sales, they would have earned the tag of ‘being serious towards India’! The 1.3L MJD could have played the second fiddle for the lower rung of the segment. Quite sadly, they have not talked about the 1.6L MJD even once!
The worst that can happen to them now is – Maruti enjoys their 1.6L engine on their upcoming cars as has been under speculations.
This also unsettles us about Fiat’s future cars. Avventura (as signified by B-CUV on these slides) is promised to get 1.4L petrol engine. This would put it over the lowest excise duty slab (which was recently reduced to 8%) and take it over to the ‘Medium’ car slab. While the other engine 1.3L MJD will still attract ‘Small’ car duties.
Moreover, the spyshots of Avventura (above) suggest there could be a lot of stripping off of features and the car may end up just being another Fabia Scout! Going by the way they are playing safe, we would not be surprised if Avventura petrol gets the 1.2L motor (which will attract least duties) and Fiat lives happily ever after!
They should learn a few lessons from Hyundai who have been one of the most aggressive manufacturers, not only in India but the world over. Nonetheless, I wish them success and hope they can take some bolder steps to ensure that they remain a competition for others.