By on February 6, 2013

With the Fiat brand looking to move into the “premium small” space, where its 500 and Panda vehicles currently thrive, there will likely be an opportunity for a low-cost brand within the Fiat empire, and Sergio Marchionne is already investigating the possibility of a low-cost Fiat built outside of Europe, that would go head-to-head with Dacia and other similar products.

Unlike Renault-Nissan, Fiat cannot utilize any of its European capacity to build a car with an MSRP of 7,450 euros. Fiat is looking at facilities outside of Europe to see if building such a car is viable.  According to Automotive News, Fiat has previously looked at low-cost cars, but scuttled plans due to uncertainties regarding profitability. But Fiat’s new upmarket shift would likely necessitate lower-end cars to fill the entry-level void in Fiat’s lineup.

Speaking to TTAC at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Fiat sources clarified their future product direction (which, contrary to prior reports, would not involved paring the model lineup down the just the Panda and 500) and tacitly admitted that the low-cost segment was one in which Fiat may enter in the future

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20 Comments on “Fiat Looks To Buttress 500, Panda With Low-Cost Car...”


  • avatar
    chaparral

    Could they build it for less in America?

    Would it be cheaper to renovate some long-closed plant or to build a new one?

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I miss the day when a Falcon, Dart, and/or Chev II with a six was the low cost car we needed. I still need a car that hauls like that.

    Oh well. I wish them well and think little puddle jumpers like this are a lot of fun to drive.

  • avatar
    GMLCountry

    Panda is “premium small?” My mom bought a Panda about 4 years ago as a easy-to-drive compact, but it was never considered “premium.” It’s a great car, actually fun to drive, but definitely not premium.

    • 0 avatar

      Your Mum’s 4-year-old Panda will be the previous model, not the car being discussed.

      My folks just replaced their old Panda with a new 2013 model and it feels like a markedly more up-market product inside and out. Cabin materials especially are significantly smarter than the fairly utilitarian plastics used in the old 2004-2012 model. It’s definitely left a gap in the market behind it for a more basic/utilitarian small car.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    OR…Fiat could buttress the Panda and SELL IT IN THE US!?! (OMG! What a great idea! You are a genius Speed3!). But seriously, can I have a Panda?

    If “budget” brands are the new thing for developing countries and bankrupt developed ones, what about the Plymouth or Innocenti?

  • avatar
    Bela Barenyi

    Fiat already tried this/did this in the early 1990s, when they got the Innocenti brand in 1990. The Innocenti Elba (a rebadged Fiat Duna sourced from Argentina or Brazil) was offered from 1991 till 1997 in Italy. As far as I remember, it was not such a hit/success. The Palio/Siena was the successor of the Duna/Elba. The Elba was the last car that was sold under the Innoncenti brand.
    I think one of the reasons for the failure was the fact that it was
    just a simple rebadge and not a new designed car, and more importantly,
    it was a model which was not suitable for Europe/Italy, as it was
    a low-cost model from/for the South American market.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    In a similar vein, could this be the next application of Ford’s Eco-Ruse? It looks just like an Aston Martin.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/04/jeremy_clarkson_s_p45_terrifying_ride_in_world_s_tiniest_car_video.html

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I _LOVE_ the look of this car in the picture, although I imagine it would look much worse under the wheel of an H2….

  • avatar
    vwgolf420

    Revive the Plymouth name…

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    I really don’t understand american car buyers… in Europe fiat is a bargain basement brand with losing sales. Only people that can’t afford a different car or can’t get financing would buy a Fiat. No one would aspire to buy a Fiat. Even on small European streets no one really wants a 500, it is more a necessity due to lack of money.

    But here in America they are able to sell the same crappy car almost as premium along with BMW mini prices. This must be power of marketing.

    Moving downmarket from Fiat? I thought Lancia and Alfa were the Fiat “premium” brands. This is like saying GM needs to have a brand to position below Daewoo because Daewoo moved upmarket to people who only live on food stamps and now they need a brand to cater to people who live 100% on welfare.
    (and I don’t mean to offend anyone other than Fiat or GM)

    • 0 avatar
      xowee

      You are obviously talking about something you don’t know. The Fiat 500 sells at the same price in Europe as in the US. Certainly people who prioritize price don’t buy the 500 since for the same price they could buy a bigger car.

      Panda is cheaper and more mainstream, definitely not a premium small car but neither a low cost car. Low cost brands in Europe are Dacia, Skoda and Chevrolet.

      • 0 avatar

        xowee: Fiat must have done something awful bad to herrkaleun. Whenever something about Fiat comes up, he offers similar comments. He thinks all Fiat buyers are dead beats and not serious and the cars live in a kind of time warp offering 70s style reliability… What to do? The best probably is to ignore.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        well, yes, same price as in Europe means overpriced since almost every other car sells for much less in the US than in Europe.

        I’m not sure if you can say Skoda is below Fiat. unless we really pretend Fiat is premium like Lexus… Skoda is so fancy premium that VW artificially had to harmstring them to not jeopardize their VW sales. did you ever see or drive a Skoda from after 2000? those are pretty fancy. and in europe, unlike the US, VW and all its brands have a solid reputation for quality.

        Marcelo: no fiat didn’t do anything to me personally. But I’m not ignorant to reality and have friends who owned Alfas, Fiats etc. At least The alfa owners wanted that car, first, until the repairs came in.

        sure they probably improved over the last years, but so did everyone else. and I still don’t think fiat is premium and needs a brand below unless we talk about sales in developing countries.

        Just because I don’t think Fiat is premium and needs a lower brand doesn’t mean I’m ignorant. Michael Jackson called everyone ignorant :)

        And opinions here are biased, heated, and based on anecdotal evidence. Like on every other forum. Even when I’m wrong, you never will see me buy a GM product even if all evidence shows they are great.. i used to own a Corsa B, which was in the shop all the time despite being a new car. Just my opinion. As long as i have a choice I stay away from brands I don’t trust and I have a long memory. Bad reputations (deserved or undeserved) live long.

      • 0 avatar
        xowee

        @Herrkaleun

        You have a strange a idea of what premium means. To you a 500 is overpriced, well thanks for your opinion but they sell lots of 500s in Europe at that price, so what does this mean to you?

        You want to compare Skoda to Fiat? Go ahead and check at which prices Skodas and Fiats are sold in Europe, it’s not difficult to see that your opinions are just your own and are not shared by the majority of the consumers.

  • avatar

    I think the ultra low cost brand will be for Europe only. Renault didn’t launch Dacia in SAmerica to peddle the Logan family and I doubt Nissan will use Datsun here. Cars here are already pretty low cost (to build, not buy) and content and finishing is pretty weak. Also, at least in Brazil, people don’t like new brands, specially those that don’t hail from US-Europe-Japan and now Korea. Just see the difficulties of Lada and the Chinese in this country. Of course, if these future cars undercut current prices by half…

    As to US, if Datsun in its new form make it, it could be Plymouth could see the light of day again.

    • 0 avatar
      xowee

      I agree, the idea would be to replicate the Dacia model. Cheaper models sold as Dacia in Europe and as Renault in developing countries. Thus I guess Uno, Palio and other future models could be sold under a new brand in Europe. Being produced in Brazil or maybe India.

  • avatar
    TheEdSantosShow

    Fiat UNO.
    Brazil.
    Where are my lire?


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