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Fiat to refocus models, markets

by Bill Cawthon on

Fiat-LRP-Web Fiat brand CEO Olivier Francois said that by 2010 Fiat’s product line had become overloaded with 13 models but little to define them. As his presentation noted, there were “many cars” and a ‘blurred family feeling”  that failed to build brand equity and impaired pricing power in the marketplace.

As of 2014, the product line has been trimmed to seven models (500, 500L, Panda, Punto, Freemont, Qubo and Doblo) that are clearly differentiated.

For the future, the Fiat 500 will be positioned to appeal to the upper portion of the mainstream market. This is already starting to work in Europe where the 500 commands a higher price than many of its competitors. The 500 also has a higher-than-average image in the five largest European markets: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

While plans for Brazil, India and China call for an an overhauled and expanded lineup by 2018, the North American market will see the addition of only the 500X and a specialty model. And we won’t be getting the small pickup to be introduced in the Latin American market next year.

The reason for this is the areas in which Fiat sees the most potential growth. Fiat is looking to grow worldwide sales from 1.5 million in 2013 to 1.9 million by 2018. Fiat wants to double U.S. sales to about 100,000 units but expects South America and Asia-Pacific to add 330,000 their volumes. Fiat projections see Latin America becoming Fiat’s largest worldwide market, followed by Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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