Un Altra Volta: Fiat Tries Again in China

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Fiat never had much luck in China, one of the few remaining growth markets on the planet. Neither had Chrysler. One word fits both: “Orribile!”

“Never say die,” says Sergio Marchionne (or in Italiano to that effect.) Today, he will try again. At a ceremony in Rome, flanked by China’s President Hu Jintao and Italy’s President Silvio “Daddy” Berlusconi, Sergio will sign a deal for joint venture with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group, Reuters reports. Hu Jintao is in town anyway to attend the G8 meeting. And what will they build together?

Italy’s business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said the alliance between Fiat and Guangzhou will see a joint production plant launched in China in 2011 to produce a new version of Fiat’s Linea model and, subsequently, Fiat’s Bravo and Grande Punto models.

A year ago, Fiat had to apologize to China about a television commercial featuring Hollywood actor Richard Gere and a reference to Tibet. The matter appears to have blown over.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • NN NN on Jul 06, 2009

    I lived in Shenzhen 2002-2003, and I recall seeing a decent amount of Palio's. I guess that was the peak of Fiat's success over there?

  • Bocatrip Bocatrip on Jul 06, 2009

    I remember the Fiat La Strada and 128 both absolute disasters for this market. The 124 Sedan, Coupe and Spyder were not all that bad. I hope that have made leaps and bounds from earlier horror shows sold in this country.