Currently reading: Fiat plans new European attack
Fiat range to be divided into 'Emotional' and 'Rational' arms, with a new 124 Spider planned to join 500s in Emotional family
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3 mins read
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.

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AHA1 3 September 2015

Embarrassingly naive

This is piffle cooked up by underworked planners. 15 minutes in a Fiat showroom (somewhere they are no doubt completely unfamiliar with) would apprise them of an insight any working car salesman knows only too well: purchases are as emotional as they are rational, if not more so. It would be a disaster to separate the two, even if it were possible. Throw the whole proposal into the recycling bin and get on with slowly producing half baked 'me too' variants of past successes. Fiddling while Turin burns.
concinnity 19 August 2015

Where can Fiat find an upmarket brand?

If only Fiat had a slightly more upmarket brand that could use many Fiat parts but have it's own identity. They could then make the larger aspirational cars their own brand, to tuck in below Alfa Romeo without trying to stretch the Fiat brand so far.
The brand would of course have to be slightly sporty and it would be handy for it to have some sort of motoring heritage with motorsport success and a smattering of a few cars with ,perhaps Ferrari engines and some spectacular show cars?
Oh, they do have such a brand. When is Lancia coming back?
If Audi can disappear as a brand for twenty years until relauched as a budget brand by Mercedes Benz in '57 and can then be perceived within forty years as some sort of Mercedes equal; and Skoda can go from being a joke to sensible luxury in fifteen years, why not?
Daniel Joseph 19 August 2015

Why not?

Sergio Marchionne, that's why! Seriously, and in fairness to Mr Marchionne, he is just the latest in a long line of Fiat/FCA managers who appear to have no idea how to formulate a strategy AND STICK TO IT. It is a tragedy that the heritage and tremendous former customer loyalty enjoyed by Alfa Romeo and Lancia has been squandered over the past three decades by indifferent products and lack of any coherent strategy for these brands. Now Fiat itself, once a producer of a full range of cars that were broadly competitive while retaining a distinctive Italian character, is withering on the vine. The fundamental problem is the endless changes to strategy. If FCA was as proficient at producing actual cars as it appears to be at producing new product plans, then it would be a world beater. Audi and Skoda have been built into the highly successful and profitable brands they are today by Volkswagen Group's clear definition of brand values for each at the outset and then developing initial and subsequent generations of cars that were consistent with these brand values and gave customers exactly what they expected. This doesn't make them interesting, characterful or charismatic, but certainly makes them succesful. Compare their success with the struggles of Seat, where the products are fine but the brand is (relatively) poorly defined. I'm not taking FCA's latest brand strategy for Fiat with any degree of seriousness because there will, I'm sure, be another coming along in a couple of years. In any event, this strategy will just cause further confusion in the minds of potential Fiat customers. As BigMitch put it, "Are Fiats stylish, aspirational small cars or are they budget sh*boxes?" Or, to put it another way, would you prefer a reheated MX-5 with a Dacia badge, or the real thing?
erly5 18 August 2015

I wish they would make up their mind!

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.

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