India has nowhere to go but up. Its share of the country’s highly competitive light-vehicle market is less than 0.5%.
Facelifted Linea in vanguard of new-product push.
MUMBAI –Automobiles India plots another attempt to gain a foothold in the country with its 2018 India Plan, as part of its larger Five Year Asia Pacific strategy.
Mike Manley, FCA chief operating officer-Asia Pacific Region and a member of theGroup Executive Council, recently said in Mumbai: “Fiat is eyeing volumes of 130,000 by 2018, up from 10,000 in 2013. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 50% over the next four years.”
The automaker is looking to launch 12 new models based on three platforms and double its work force to more than 5,000 people. It plans to increase capacity of the Ranjangaon plant it shares withMotors by more than 80%.
Fiat India has nowhere to go but up. Its market share in the country’s highly competitive light-vehicle market is less than 0.5%.
Fiat vehicles have been sold in India since 1948 and the automaker became a pioneering transplant manufacturer here in 1990. But it has endured two failed joint ventures, first with Premiere Automobiles and then a technical collaboration withfollowed by a manufacturing JV.
The automakers dissolved their production, marketing and distribution JVs two years ago. Accumulated losses of Rs3 billion ($50 million) were written off, wiping out capital and reserves. Since then Fiat and Tata have used the Ranjangaon plant for their own products.
Fiat currently produces three cars – the Grande Punto, Linea and Linea Classic – on a single platform, along with three engines and one transmission at the shared plant. But its main source of revenue is the 1.3L MultiJet diesel engine supplied to, India’s No.1 automaker. Capacity of 350,000 units is being fully utilized.
The 12 new models envisioned in the 2018 plan include an updated Avventura CUV, Punto hatchback, Grand Sienna minivan, Abarth hatchback version of the Fiat 500 and a facelifted Grande Punto and Linea. The plan also calls for growing the number of engine and transmission variants to six and three, respectively.
Fiat’s strategy is to bypass aspirational and expensive models in favor of high-volume hatchbacks, compact sedans less than 158 ins. (4,000 mm) in length, CUVs and compact SUVs. Designers are working to create more space and greater comforts in the compact sedans and SUVs in the lowest tax bracket of 12%.
Declining Indian sales have forced Fiat to delay this year’s scheduled launch of Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee models this year. Both now are slated to come to market in mid-2015, followed in 2016 by a new compact SUV.
The growth scheme also would expand Fiat’s sales network of 108 dealers in 81 cities to 220 by 2018. The automaker recently introduced its Amico (“Friend” in Italian) after-sales initiative in which a service manager visits the customer’s home to hear concerns or complaints. Its Facebook page already has 600,000 followers.