Fiat range to be divided into 'Emotional' and 'Rational' arms, with a new 124 Spider planned to join 500s in Emotional family
18 August 2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will split its Fiat brand into two distinct arms as it plots to revive the company in the competitive western European car market.

Fiat’s product planners have decided to exploit two areas in the European car market that are showing strong signs of growth: near-premium small and compact cars and high-value budget cars.

Fiat’s Luca Napolitano, who is head of the Fiat brand for Europe, the Middle East and Russia, has been quoted as saying that the two new arms are known as ‘Rational’ and ‘Emotional’.

The Emotional family covers the expanding 500 range and the upcoming Mazda MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider. The significant addition to the 500 range will be a larger five-door hatchback model, which will be based on the same platform as the 500X crossover.

This new car is expected next year and Fiat will pitch it as a direct Mini rival that offers more space. All-wheel drive and powerful turbocharged versions are also under development.

Napolitano said Fiat’s Rational  line would be “based on functionality and value for money”. The Panda (which will be replaced in 2018) will make up the entry-level models. They will be joined by a new B-segment supermini — in effect, a reborn Uno — and a new family hatchback and estate that are based on the Aegea budget saloon.

Fiat’s own internal presentation says the new Rational B-segment model will be launched next year.

There’s no news yet on what the bigger models will be called, but Grande Panda or Grande Punto are thought to be in contention.

Although Fiat will reveal more about this new line-up at the Geneva motor show next March, it’s understood that the C-segment hatch and estate will not be as cheap as Dacia models but will undercut mainstream rivals from the likes of Skoda and Hyundai-Kia.

The Aegea platform has been developed in Turkey over the past three years, mirroring Dacia’s approach of completing much of the engineering in a low-cost country, Romania in Dacia’s case.

According to an official investors’ presentation by the company, Rational Fiats will be built in just one trim level, with the choice of two engines and just four exterior colours.

This suggests that luxury upgrades such as sat-nav or a higher-quality audio system will be installed by the dealer. Showroom prices will also be fixed and Fiat may opt to retail these cars online.

Such moves look to leverage Fiat’s historic advantages of being a brand built on a reputation for characterful and highly regarded small cars such as the Uno, Brava, Punto and Panda - all of which became European Cars of the Year.

This new plan should boost the Fiat brand, which has suffered a collapse in its sales and market share during the past two decades.

In 1997, when the first-generation Punto was at the top of the sales charts, the company sold 1.272 million cars in western and central Europe and achieved a market share of 9.44%.

For almost 10 years from 2001 on, sales hovered approximately 100,000 either side of the 900,000 mark. However, after achieving 837,000 sales in 2010, Fiat sales collapsed to just 583,000 and a 4.5% market share.

The good news for the Italian firm is that 2015 is proving to be something of a turnaround year for the brand, even before the new two-family plan has been established.

At the end of June, the 500 and Panda accounted for a near-28% share of the A-segment between them and the 500L was number one in the small MPV segment, with a market share of 24%. The 500X has also had a strong start to the year, with around 37,000 units sold during the first six months.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

Join the debate

Comments
13

18 August 2015
I like the idea of the rational and emotional, but I really think they are being a bit too limited with the rational cars. One trim level and 4 colours? That is a very restricted choice.

Also, no wonder their market share collapsed. they didn't replace the Punto. Imagine Ford not replacing the Fiesta? It's crazy. They bet the entire farm on the 500. However, glad to see the punto getting a proper replacement. Only thing that could upset the applecart is it sends out a mixed message to the public. Are Fiats stylish, aspirational small cars or are they budget shitboxes?

3

18 August 2015
Instead of becoming a new Alfa Spider. Guess the Fiat board realised that it's even more important to revive the Fiat brand. And a halo model would hence be most welcome.

18 August 2015
They could even market them as cars for rational people and others for silly, stupid people. On the rational Panda side I rather favour a 3 door Panda addition and the Panda theme being carried into the Fiorino, Doblo and Freemont models. The use of the name Giant Panda ought to be irresistible.

Hard to imagine that a sub-500 Topolino isn't in plan.

18 August 2015
They could even market them as cars for rational people and others for silly, stupid people. On the rational Panda side I rather favour a 3 door Panda addition and the Panda theme being carried into the Fiorino, Doblo and Freemont models. The use of the name Giant Panda ought to be irresistible.

Hard to imagine that a sub-500 Topolino isn't in plan.

18 August 2015
This is all talk, as usual, and unless the cars are good enough it doesn't matter what they call them.

18 August 2015
More than 1 in 4 cars of new cars sold in the A segment is either a 500 or a Panda???? I know they might be popular in Italy but I can't remember the last time I saw a new Panda in the UK

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

18 August 2015
I suspect that the 1 in 4 A segment sales relates to the Italian market, elsewhere they don't seem to be making progress. And they need to fix more than just the cars. Fiat's brand image remains poor and I suspect that the dealers pile them high, sell them cheap, ignore customer complaints mentality will not be easy to change.

18 August 2015
check these figures out.
The market share of A-segment cars in Europe for the 500 and Panda is a combined 29%. With the 500 the biggest selling car in 10 EMEA countries. Remember it is a city car not a super mini, so figures are compared to VW Up! and Hyundai i10.

Some things I would change would be the naming of cars.
Emotional range would be
A-segment 500, 500C
Super mini 600 (new car mentioned above), 600M (new name for 500LMPW 7 seat), 600X
Spider 124S

There would also be Abarth cars as extreme sporty versions of all bar the 600M.

These would be all the emotional range, as above this would be Alfa Romeo Giulietta and 4C.

The Functional range would be based around the Panda design
A-segment PandaUno (first Panda)
Super mini Panda (SUV pitched between 600X and Jeep Renegade)
Small family GrandPanda (Replace,ent for Freemont)

The brand FCA will use for mainstream will be Chrysler and will be the challenger for Ford, Vauxhall/Opel and the Aisan brands, so the Agea range will become the Chrysler 100 in Europe.

18 August 2015
xxxx wrote:

More than 1 in 4 cars of new cars sold in the A segment is either a 500 or a Panda???? I know they might be popular in Italy but I can't remember the last time I saw a new Panda in the UK

The current panda isn't a hugely common site in the UK, granted, but you do see them everywhere else in Europe. The 500 is consistently in the Top 10 overall sales in the UK, so perhaps not such a surprise. I hope Fiat succeed.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

18 August 2015
FIAT need to decide a future strategy and implement it. I feel as if the future direction of FIAT has been written about at great length for a long time now without much in the way of action. In the meantime they are losing market share in 2 of the biggest segments due to the lack of replacements for the ageing Punto and Brava ranges.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK