By on March 16, 2012

Sergio Marchionne told Auto Express that Fiat may stick to small cars in the future, with vehicles like the 500L and the much-lauded Panda acting as Fiat’s “bigger” offerings. The reason behind the move appears to be greater consolidation with Chrysler and Fiat’s larger cars meeting a cool reception in the market.

“It could well be that Fiat never does a D-segment car again,” he admitted. “The [recently axed] Croma was a great car that could not get traction in the market.
I need to be careful not to push Fiat into territory it can’t manage. I have Alfa, Chrysler and Jeep that can all play there. We need to be faithful to Fiat’s DNA and its potential.”
Marchionne went on to cite the sales failure of the latest Fiat Croma as further evidence that the Fiat brand must stick to its knitting. With Marchionne somehow forget to mention that Lancia, with their re-badged Chrysler products, should also be a prime contender to sell D-Segment products

 

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30 Comments on “Fiat May Stick To Small Cars...”


  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Let me guess, the Lancia will come with a manual transmission, have a ‘Magnum’ wagon version and a diesel option, but only for every country other than the US and Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadFlorist

      I’m sure, in relatively short order, there will be a brisk international trade providing all the parts the enthusiast community in Yankistan needs to custom-build their Lancslers to desired specs.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    This is probably the right move. Unfortunately, it appears that his entire Fiat Chrysler strategy hinges on how receptive the American public is to modified larger Fiats, the very cars he seems to dis. And…Marchionne is dreaming with regards to Alfa Romeo.

    • 0 avatar

      If only Chrysler/Lancia and Alfa sell the new (2014-whenever) D-sedan (200/Giulia), where’s the global volume? And if it’s a good enough car for those brands, why wouldn’t it work as a Fiat as well?

      Seems like Sergio is thinking himself into a wet paper bag. Luckily, these little pronouncements have a way of being quickly forgotten. If I had a buck for every “plan” or “strategy” that Marchionne has publicly hinted at and then contradicted, I could probably buy Fiat myself. Although realistically, I’d probably spend the money on something worthwhile, like drugs.

      • 0 avatar

        Agree with you Ed. Except for the last comment, which was a bit acid.

        Anyways, Mr Marchionne is quickly showing his limits. He’s been good so far, but seems he really is lost on a way forward.

        Alas, maybe Ei ke Batista will eventually buy Fiat and keep it alive in Brazil…

      • 0 avatar
        getacargetacheck

        “If only Chrysler/Lancia and Alfa sell the new (2014-whenever) D-sedan (200/Giulia), where’s the global volume? And if it’s a good enough car for those brands, why wouldn’t it work as a Fiat as well?”

        Good point about global volume. On the other hand, anything larger than a Punto doesn’t sell particularly well in Southern Europe anyway, especially in this economy. I still wonder if the stronger long-term strategy would have been to make the Fiat brand the worldwide brand a la “one Ford.” Meaning, no more Chryslers or Dodges smaller than the LYs, minivans, and Jeeps. Fiat would handle everything below that through the existing CDJR dealers.

        “Seems like Sergio is thinking himself into a wet paper bag. Luckily, these little pronouncements have a way of being quickly forgotten. If I had a buck for every “plan” or “strategy” that Marchionne has publicly hinted at and then contradicted, I could probably buy Fiat myself. Although realistically, I’d probably spend the money on something worthwhile, like drugs.”

        Yes, the cynic in me says Marchionne is teeing up for his upcoming meeting with the Italian government. Play my way or I take my ball to America?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “If only Chrysler/Lancia and Alfa sell the new (2014-whenever) D-sedan (200/Giulia), where’s the global volume?”

        Those are supposed to share a platform with other cars, such as the Dart and Compass. A lot of the volume will have to come from the US. Odds are good that you’ll be able to rent one.

      • 0 avatar
        PaulieWalnut

        @Edward

        Fiat’s D-segment offerings have sold so pathetically for so long that a new model wouldn’t add significantly to overall volume. Not worth the money.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        You would think so but from what I know of Fiat, they’ve always been best with small A-C segment cars, anything above that point has always been their weakest link but there have been a few exceptions, such as the 131/Brava that was in production from 1974-84 or there abouts.

        That said, Alfa has always been more or less the same size category with Fiat, but much more sporty with Lancia doing more the mid to larger cars and the luxury category.

        So as to Fiat itself, that may WELL be some of their problem with northern Europe as the northerners tend to favor a bit larger (but still considerably smaller than what much of us here in the US drive).

        I’m at a loss as to what their strategy is now but it seems Marchione needs to step back and try to see the forest and see the bigger picture. I’m glad he has realized one aspect. Fiat has always been at its best when dealing with the A-C segment cars and the small MPV’s. I know Alfa tends to run in the same size classes as Fiat but on a much sportier level with Lancia starting as small as the B segment for a few entry level models up through the D segment cars or so, albeit more luxurious (and pricier too).

        But I’m also wondering if he’s still re-assessing the situation with Fiat as the situation in Italy, southern Europe keeps changing as the situation deteriorates/unfolds day by day and thus has to keep modifying his strategy but there comes a point where you have to freeze things, and move forward if you are to survive.

        • 0 avatar
          Lampredi

          What’s sad is that Fiat (the brand) intends to ditch the C segment altogether, which means that it won’t properly replace the current slow-selling Bravo. Instead, it will launch a Nissan Qashqai-inspired crossover (!). I believe Sergio is making a big mistake with this decision.

          http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2011/04/fiat-to-replace-slow-selling-bravo-with.html

      • 0 avatar

        Lampredi: Say it ain’t so?! I mean, this current Bravo is a dud, the Stilo was meh, but the old Bravo, Tipo and even Ritmo before that had a lot going for them. I mean, only of the plan is for Fiat to only do small, Alfa mid-size and Lancia (Chrysler) big. However, doubt they have the discipline for that…

        • 0 avatar
          Lampredi

          Marcelo: I’m afraid it’s true… though Fiat revises its plans so often it’s hard to keep track of what’s changed and what still applies.

          Oh, by the way, now that I think about it, I read the other day about Fiat building a Dodge Dart-based hatchback in China and considering exporting it to Europe as a de facto replacement for the Bravo, so in that sense I might be slightly wrong:

          “The China-sourced hatchback could potentially replace the slow-selling Bravo in Fiat’s European range. Bravo sales declined 27 percent to 27,244 units from January to October last year, according to data from market research JATO Dynamics.

          Fiat plans to stop making the Bravo in 2013. The model is built in Cassino, central Italy, where Fiat plans to begin building a compact crossover to rival the hot-selling Nissan Qashqai in late 2013 or early 2014.”

          http://europe.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120109/ANE/120109888

          Good luck with selling a Chinese-built hatchback to compete with the Golf, Fiat… the whole thing sounds pretty half-hearted.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    If Sergio overlooked Lancia’s rebadged Chryslers, I imagine everyone else is overlooking them, too.

    Has anyone from Europe seen a Thema, Grand Voyager, or Flavia?

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    I think the legendary Italian auto designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (who’s seemingly been reduced to a Xerox operator at Volkswagen together with Alfa 156 designer Walter De Silva after Volkswagen bought Italdesign, though perhaps what he’s really doing is secretly designing an Audi Romeo lineup in case Piëch gets what Piëch wants) summed up Sergio Marchionne pretty well:

    “Sergio Marchionne è un grande uomo di finanza non di prodotto.”

    Meaning, “Sergio Marchionne is a great man of finance, not of product”.

    As much as it pains me to say it, I think he’s right.

    (http://www.autoblog.it/post/31878/giugiaro-marchionne-grande-uomo-di-finanza-non-di-prodotto)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “The [recently axed] Croma was a great car that could not get traction in the market.” It was a GM Epsilon based car. I’d hardly characterize any of them as excellent. That being said, there isn’t much point to value brands making big cars in most markets, as political policies keep operating costs from being affordable to any but higher end buyers.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    Uh… I notice at the end of that article he leaves out Dodge o_O

    • 0 avatar
      Maintainer

      I keep noticing that in regards to Chrysler. I couldn’t imagine a Dart brand, Charger brand, Ram brand, etc. Unless they start selling cars through WallyWorld..

  • avatar
    Marko

    I have been to various parts of Europe, and “Fiat” is associated with a small car in most. The first-generation Croma of the 1980s and 1990s was a rebadged Lancia (and cousin of the Saab 9000 and Alfa 164) anyway.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    has Fiat ever made a medium sized or larger car?

    The world isn’t crying out for medium to large sized cars anyway… especially most of Europe.

    I know what the attraction is and GM is famous for it… small cars have small profit margins. Medium cars have… you guessed it… bigger margins.

    But the buyer knows that if they’re after medium to large you’d look at the Germans or at least… Ford and the Japanese.

  • avatar
    fabriced28

    I’m in Europe, in a theoretically receptive market, and I still haven’t seen a Lancia Thema. I think I saw a Lancia Voyager from afar, but cannot be so sure as the same shape was already sold as a Chrysler before. Sales results indicate that the new Ypsilon is doing well, but not the big ones.
    And the restart of Chrysler in UK seems awfully slow.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    They need to hit a home run with the new Dart, otherwise the 500 alone is not gonna cut it, no matter how many media types they get to praise the little POS

  • avatar

    Of course, they should. Simply look at their success stories in this segment:

    - Lancia’s last attempt the Thesis (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancia_Thesis) failed miserably.
    - Fiat’s last attempt to gain some significance dates back to 1977 with the Fiat 130 (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_130).
    - The Fiat Croma (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Croma) always was, and still is, an ugly, ungainly car for the blind, or for those who don’t care.

    If they keep out of this segment and let Chrysler do this they might have a small chance.

  • avatar
    automaniak

    Fiat Freemont (rebadged Dodge Journey) is segment D, isn’t it ?
    And Freemont is doing very well in Europe.


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