QOTD: What's to Be Done With Fiat?
As we told you yesterday, Fiat’s sales are best imagined as a heavy stone — one that drops heavily into a pond after a brief, victorious flight. Two years of consecutive month-over-month sales declines in the United States is a grim situation for any brand, let alone one reintroduced just seven years ago. Blame America’s growing allergy to small cars, or a neglectful corporate parent — whatever the reason, something has to be done.
The purpose of this article isn’t to, um, throw stones at Fiat’s four-model lineup; it’s to give you an opportunity to save the brand. Or kill it off for a second time.
Like you’ve done in the past, you’re now reclining ever so slightly in the CEO’s chair down in Auburn Hills. You have two options at your disposal — one easy, the other complex.
Option One: Deep-six the brand in North America because it’s not worth the trouble and get on building a new two-door Ramcharger for Steph Willems. The Bronco needs a challenger.
Option Two: Take stock of the situation and, with the aim of resurrection, plot a new product course for the beleaguered brand.
While you might have very good reasons for killing off the brand north of the Rio Grande (and we hope you share them), the second option is where things get interesting. What, if anything, remains in the brand’s lineup after you’re through with it? Keep in mind that FCA’s wallet isn’t overflowing for this project, meaning your suggestions need to be in the realm of doability.
Could the segment space inhabited by the Fiat 500L — a car seen as often as Jimmy Hoffa and the Lindbergh baby — be better served by offering its platform mate, the attractive and contemporary Fiat Tipo sedan and five-door? Or are you of the same mind as Sergio Marchionne, with small cars not being worth the hassle?
Maybe Fiat, seeing as how the Italian twin to the Jeep Renegade fell on its face, deserves a larger crossover than the 500X? Why not a Fiat based on the Cherokee’s CUSW platform?
There’s also the question of whether the diminutive 500 city car, Fiat’s instantly recognizable model, is worth saving. Has its time in the sun been forever darkened?
One wildly obvious suggestion I’d have, if Fiat wants to slowly recapture lost market share (which, is this case, is the whole pie), is that it needs to do more in the segments it’s in, and add new product in the segments it isn’t. Under your watch, Fiat could bring production of the unibody Toro pickup from Brazil to Mexico, thus avoiding the chicken tax and giving Americans the small pickup they hopefully want. That’s assuming it can be built to U.S. safety standards. Maybe, if priced right, enough buyers might take to it, just like they’re taking to the Honda Ridge- er, nevermind.
Or maybe it’s best to start with a clean slate. There’s a number of shared platforms to build on. Hell, let’s throw in a little more cash and allow you to develop some of your own. A rear-drive 124 sedan, perhaps, and a pile of variants? Wouldn’t the Russians drool.
So tell us — what stable of Fiat vehicles would you like to see rise from the drawing board? And do you think someone other than yourself might buy one?
Sound off in the comments.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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