Fiat India wont launch any new car model till 2013-14, says CEO

Written by Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 19 2011, 08:39am hrs
Yet to make a meaningful mark in the domestic car market, the Italian subsidiary firm Fiat India is looking to refresh its current product portfolio and weave a new brand strategy to spruce up numbers.

As part of the strategy, the company would not introduce any new car model till 2013-14, but look at consolidating its current range. This would mean that the company's much hyped small car would not hit the roads next year as it was widely believed.

In January 2010 the company had said that it was working on a small car positioned below the Punto and Palio and was expected to hit the markets by 2012. The proposed small car was expected to increase Fiat's sales numbers in the country. At present the company only has three models in its portfolio Punto, Linea and Palio Stile.

Chief executive officer of Fiat India Rajeev Kapoor told FE that the company's move is aimed at reaping benefits from its current range of cars.

(There would be) no new car in short-term. It would come around 2013-14, Kapoor said.

Kapoor said that the company's range of cars had a lot of potential which the company so far has not been able to exploit. We would look to refresh the look of these cars so that the newness comes out and of course a new product has to come, he said.

He said that the company is also working on a new brand positioning strategy to underline the qualities of its products. We are working on a new product. But at the side we are looking at building on the network and brand. We would focus on bringing in a new brand strategy to bring out the Italianess of the brands, he said.

The company recently announced that it would set up exclusive dealerships for its products. Earlier the company's cars were displayed in showrooms along with products of its joint venture partner Tata Motors.

This move, the company hopes, would help in giving Fiat's range of cars a new brand identity.

We are not going separate ways. But our approach to the market is being done differently now. We feel that both the brands should be seen differently. The same dealer will have to open two dealerships in a different location/showrooms, he said. According to the plan, the company would open 20 Fiat branded stores in the country.

A Delhi-based auto expert Deepak Dalal said that the company's decision to consolidate its product base should give the desired results.

I feel that the company has not been able to fully bring out the potential of its cars. Instead of launching another new model it would be prudent to consolidate and refresh its current range of vehicles, he said.

An executive in a multinational car company with products across price point feels that Fiat has not been able to market its products as well as its competitors. There is no doubt Fiat products are good. But it requires a dedicated marketing push and setting up of dealerships and a sound network, he added.

In April-August period the company's sales declined 23% to 7,874 units as compared to 10,213 units in the corresponding month last financial year. Fiat India is a 50-50 joint company with Tata Motors. The JV firm has one manufacturing plant at Ranjangaon, near Pune with an investment of R4,000 crore.