Fiat Plans Small Car, Palio Diesel Variant Soon

New Delhi, January 22: | Updated: Jan 23 2003, 05:30am hrs
Despite problems plaguing the parent, Fiat India is upbeat with plans which may include the launch of a small car and aims to arrest the decline in Palio with the rollout of the diesel variant.

The company is not looking at importing completely-built units for introducing premium luxury cars such as Alfa Romeo, its newly appointed chairman and managing director Alberto Montanari said.

We do not plan to launch Alfa Romeo or other cars as no service and spares network has been established by any dealers in the country and we do not want buyers of these cars to be inconvenienced, he told FE.

A new service and sales network will have to be established as the existing dealers cannot handle the premium cars, he said.

Regarding future plans, he said: We have to work out a strategy for the next five years keeping in mind the competition then, adding we are studying the market for launching a small compact car which will be launched in Europe.

The car codenamed Small will be launched in Europe in the second half of this year. He said the car would be built on an entirely new platform and also sport a newly-developed 1200cc turbo-diesel, 1100cc and 1200cc petrol engines.

In India, we will have to understand the possible volume, the possible cost of production and its positioning before deciding to produce the car, he said.

He termed the domestic car market as very competitive as the pie is not so big but there are many players.

Fiat India will launch the much-awaited 1900cc diesel version of its compact car Palio by March-end to cash in on the demand for diesel vehicles, especially in south India, Mr Montanari said.

He however, added that the company was still evaluating launching the multi-purpose-vehicle Doblo in the country.

Fiat India presently produces the Palio, compact car Uno and mid-size Siena at its Kurla plant near Mumbai, which has an annual production capacity of 65,000 units.

Stating India as an important market for Fiat, Mr Montanari said the country has already been identified as among the four vital markets for Fiat Spa apart from China, Brazil and Turkey.

He said Fiat was committed to the Indian market and the ongoing restructuring in Italy would not affect the operations of the local unit.

Last year, Fiat India sold 32,000 cars, 90 per cent of which were Palio cars as against 13,500 units in 2001. This year, it has targeted to sell 50,000 units.