Fiat eyeing identity as a global automaker

On Wednesday, Fiat India announced it intended to continue focussing on exports in light of recent exports to Sri Lanka of their Fiat Linea. Sri Lanka would see Fiat Linea this week while Speed Italia would be taking care of the dealerships.

Expectations are high according to Fiat India that the Linea 1.4 would sell well in Sri Lanka. Around 72 cars would be exported to Sri Lanka out of which 50 are allotted to the Air Force functionaries of Sri Lanka that would be delivered when the company introduces the cars there.

When it comes to exporting their cars strategically, Fiat have begun tapping growth opportunities abroad and focusing on countries like Australia and Bhutan where cars are driven right handed. The Sri Lankan car market accounts for the sale of 20,000 units yearly, and Fiat eyes 5% in their debut year.

Fiat eyeing identity as a global automakerSouth Africa is already seeing Fiat cars in their market and Fiat have also started exporting to Nepal. The Linea cars that are exported now are very similar to those that are being driven in India. The Fiat Punto and Fiat Linea are huge hits already in countries like Nepal and South Africa.

Fiat India, CEO, Rajeev Kapoor, told the recent exports of Fiat Linea to Sri Lanka plays an important role to reach out International car markets and to establish their presence globally. He told the company were confident of reproducing the car’s success abroad and thereby stamping their authority and brand name across global markets. He says this step taken would provide Fiat the opportunity to be recognised as auto giants globally once again.

From India, the company has been able to export 4000 units of Fiat Punto and Linea to countries where cars are driven right handed.

Fiat plans to drift alone from the Fiat-Tata dealership alliance

It was predicted to happen a bit sooner with the declining trend in the sales of Fiat cars. However, there’s some great news that would delight future Fiat car owners and Fiat enthusiasts. Fiat India now has come to a decision of dumping Tata and drifting alone in India. Team ICB has been highlighting the treatment that Fiat buyers face when they enter a Fiat-Tata dealership outlet in order to buy or book their respective Fiat cars. This does confirm that the Fiat-Tata joint venture is doing more harm to Fiat than anything good.

Fiat India is planning to open dealerships in twenty cities in India in the next 12 to 18 months and is considering, on the whole, moving out from Tata dealerships. This move so far does appear to surface only on dealership front, although an official word is yet to come concerning about the overall collaboration coming to an end, in which the alliance does involve in technology and engine sharing polices between Tata and Fiat. The reason for Fiat wanting to exit its alliance with Tata completely makes no sense where Fiat would still be gaining a lot by supplying technology and engines to Tata that eventually increases their revenues in India.

Fiat plans to drift alone from the Fiat-Tata dealership allianceSo, what we gather through this breaking up of alliance is Fiat India is looking into possibilities of selling its products via independent dealerships belonging to Fiat. By doing so, we do expect Fiat sales to be hitting the high note in the coming years if this idea to sell through their own dealerships does happen. Fiat owners in the past have complained about ill treatment when going for a Fiat car via earlier dealerships, although no complaints have been recorded as to after-sale services rendered by Fiat-Tata workshops. Looking at this scenario, it’s a matter of time when Fiat’s going to clear their thoughts about exiting from the current Fiat-Tata alliance when it comes to service centres.

Considering all the above, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fiat decide to exit the alliance regarding after-sale services too when it plans to establish their own dealerships in 20 cities in India shortly. The after-sale service centre business offers better profits than dealerships face when it comes to sales outlets with dealers a bit pessimistic about handing over after-sale services to a new vendor. By the look of the situation here, the move by Fiat if any is a welcoming one in that it might change Fiat’s luck in India.

Fiat trying to improve customer service by launching “Affinity” program

In a special bid to improve its much mangled customer service, Fiat India has launched a special program for doctors and it is called as “Affinity”. Under this particular scheme, health care professionals can enjoy a total benefit of INR 12,000 on the Fiat Linea & INR 9,000 on the Fiat Punto. Not only this, they can also participate in the ongoing festive promotions. Moreover, these customers can also trade in their existing cars and avail of a loyalty bonus, which has been specially hiked for them.

As it is doctors are quite busy in schedule and hence don’t have the requisite time to go in for a test drive. To rectify this situation, Fiat is facilitating a home test drive and also home pickup for doctors. Fiat’s innovative Blue and Me technology would also enable these doctors to stay in constant touch with their hospital as also patients. Speaking on the occasion, Fiat India’s Business Development VP, Ravi Bhatia said that Fiat recognizes the service that the community of doctors does to humanity and hence they have accorded this special program for them. He said that Fiat’s vastly acclaimed technologies would help in making lives easier for the doctors and thereon, their patients as well.

Fiat India

Fiat India Launches Technical Skill Development Programme Together With Don Bosco Called ‘Diksha’

Fiat India recently launched a social initiative, ‘Diksha’ for providing technical training and educational avenues for the Indian youth. The company came together with the Don Bosco Vyawasaik Prashikshan Kendra in Pune for beginning this initiative. The main aim behind this programme is provide a respectable means of livelihood for the poor, disadvantaged and orphans who are deprived from having good educational amenities.

Fiat said that this programme will make use of the vast training, concentration and knowledge available with the company for offering the highest quality of vocational training to those who are interested in entering the manufacturer industry. With this refined vocational training, the underprivileged students would be given skills to be able to work in an auto industry.

The CEO and President of Fiat India, Rajeev Kapoor, said that as the leaders in the auto industry, they are able to understand the varying dynamics in the field of manufacturing, realising when to upgrade training facilities at their vocational centres, so that they are able to deliver more skilled talent that will find work in a highly competitive field. With this initiative they hope to improve this process.

The main role of the company would involve improving and supporting the capability, knowledge, and competency of teachers and trainers, provide training internships in companies for students and teachers, as well as enhance the practical experience by delivering their workshop equipment, components, vehicles, training aids and teaching materials.

Meanwhile, Don Bosco would be responsible in selecting the students and conducting the programme and for getting accreditation from the government for all of the courses. Whereas Fiat would be providing job training at their dealership networks, and factory as well as train trainer programme.

The ‘Dikhsa’ initiative features courses such as the ‘Multi Brand Basic Auto Awareness for four wheelers’ that is a four months short term course. They will have 3 batches per year, where each batch will consist of 25 students. Another programme in this initiative is the ‘Centre of Excellence’ programme, which is a two year long term course. The syllabus and programme of this course will be equal to the state offered I.T.I. courses. For this course, each batch will consist of 21 students. Both the courses will get accreditation from National Council of Vocational Training, New Delhi, as well as joint certification from Don Bosco and Fiat.

Fiat India Gets New VP for Brand Development

Enrico Atanasio was recently appointed the new Sr. Vice President for Fiat’s commercial operations. This move by Fiat comes as the company tries to change the dismal performance they have witnessed in this market.  Atanasio, previously held the position of CEO of the company’s Greece operations.

Atanasio who authorizes network excellence, developing the brand and product innovations has more than 20 years of experience in the non-auto and auto sectors with various reputed firms, including Rover Italia, GM and the Fiat Group, with his main responsibility being marketing and sales.

Fiat India’s CEO and President, Rajeev Kapoor, said that Atanasio has supported the development of significant market projects, like in the US; his role was that of a manager for network development. They intend to make use of this experience and knowledge that Atanasio has to offer to better their efforts in marketing.

Fiat Evaluating Options of a New CBU Launch in India

Fiat is currently evaluating their options of launching a new car in the market through the CBU route. They are also getting ready for the launch of a small car in the market by next year.

Fiat, which operates in India through their JV with Tata Motors, had recently restructured their board in India, replacing two directors.

The CEO and President of Fiat India, Rajeev Kapoor, said that they are different opportunities and ways of introducing a model in this market, one of which is through CBUs. All these routes are open to them, and they are still in the process of evaluation. Kapoor, however, did not provide any further information like the model details and the time of its launch.

The company is currently developing a small car built specifically for the Indian auto market, at their R&D hub in Turin, Italy, following inputs from their operations in India.

Kapoor further added that there are still developing their small car. They had made an announcement earlier that they plan to launch the model in 2012. The precise details and timings will be available after the product is ready for launch.

In Jan 2010 at the Auto Expo, the company said that they would be launching a small car developed specifically for this market, with localisation of almost 80 to 85%. This car would be manufactured at their facility in Ranjangaon in Maharashtra. According to Kapoor, the car is smaller or similar than the current Palio hatchback.

They also restructured their board by replacing two directors. The board of 10 members participates equally from Tata Motors and Fiat. Part of the rearrangement saw Harald Jakob Wester and Giovanni Bartoli moving back to the company headquarters in Italy. Replacing them as new directors of the company were Giovanni Sella and Ezio Barra. Another alternate director, Silvia Blina was also appointed for Alfredo Altavilla. The other 2 directors on board include Lorenzo Sistino and Stefan Ketter.

Kapoor said that this was routine restructuring, and there was nothing serious in it. A spokesperson for the company said that this was the first time that they have replaced two directors since launching the JV in 2007. According to the official, restructuring happens on regular basis. Only one of the directors present on board has been replaced just once.

Fiat Slashes Prices of Diesel Cars to Drive Sales

While hike in fuel prices has already affected sales of petrol cars, witnessed in last month’s company sales figures, many manufacturers are still trying all they can to counter this with the help of diesel cars. One such company is Fiat India, who in order to push sales of their diesel cars, have slashed prices of their diesel models. In fact the company is now offering their diesel Linea and Punto for the same cost as their petrol counterparts.

Fiat India’s chief executive and president, Rajeev Kapoor, was quoted as saying that the hike in petrol prices has made diesel cars the preferred choice among car buyers. Fiat has led the revolution in diesel models in India and globally as well. According to them, customers want to opt for a diesel car as it has a low operational cost; however they are deterred due to the initial high price they have to pay.

The company stated they will offer these car buyers, the chance of buying a diesel Fiat Punto or Linea for the same cost as their petrol counterparts or get the equivalent cost back.

According to reports, a lucky few buyers of Fiat diesel cars also stand to win fuel coupons for a year. Customers who want to exchange their old models for a Punto or Linea will receive an additional INR 20,000 exchange bonus.