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Fiat is looking to move customers into the B segment, Mike Manley tells investors, putting the Panda under threat

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has become the latest car making group to express an intent to move away from city cars, with the company’s CEO suggesting this will happen “in the very near future”.

The comments were made by Mike Manley during FCA’s third-quarter earnings call. He expressed a desire to move customers into the B segment, where the Fiat Punto used to reside.

Manley said: “In the very near future, you will see us refocus on this higher-volume, higher-margin segment, and that will involve a move away from the minicar segment.”

A number of brands, such as Ford and Vauxhall/Opel, have already exited the A segment (city cars), while the Volkswagen Group is unlikely to replace the Up, Mii and Citigo siblings with a similarly aligned product. The problem is increasing development costs because of tougher European Union emissions limits, which makes profitability in a class expected to be low-budget very difficult, even with FCA being the market leader.

It’s likely, then, that a replacement for the Punto is now back on the cards, and this could also provide the basis for a new Alfa Romeo Mito. No timeline is given, but the decision could be influenced by FCA's recent merger with the PSA Group, allowing the Italian brands access to the platform of the new Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa.

Fiat is still understood to be replacing the 500; Autocar reported earlier this year that an electric 500e is due in 2020, alongside a new Giardiniera estate variant. It’s unlikely that the project has been cancelled so close to its public unveiling, so Manley’s comments could be in reference to the cheaper Fiat Panda

That model is the best-selling city car across Europe, with more than 105,000 examples produced in the first half of 2019, despite it being seven years old. The electric Fiat Centoventi concept unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March was strongly linked to a Panda replacement as soon as 2021, but that plan may already have been altered. 

Read more:

Why Fiat Chrysler and the PSA Group are merging

New electric Fiat 500 to lead five-model renewal plan

Alfa Romeo scraps plans for new GTV and 8C models

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bennyjet 5 November 2019

No more small Fiats :(

That will be a huge shame as Fiat's strength is small cars.  They blame legislation, which if true means the EU efforts to reduce the ecological footprint of the car will acheive the opposite, as it will result in larger, heavier and more expensive cars which will take more fuel,  more space on the roads, and use more resources to produce, and leave more polution when it's disposed of.  We see this trend already with each new model being longer, wider and mostly heavier than the one it replaced.  To the extent that manufacturers introduce new models to slot under their original smallest car ((e.g. VW UP! & Polo).  Well done EU - a great job as usual (sic)

eseaton 5 November 2019

It is utterly crazy if a

It is utterly crazy if a situation has come to be that FIAT is disinclined to make efficient little cars, but lumbering hybrid SUVs from seemingly everyone do make sense.

It isn't surprising that new registrations are tumbling - manufacturers aren't making cars people actually want to buy.

bennyjet 5 November 2019

it certainly is

At the moment I cannot think of a replacement car which I DESIRE.  They're all applicances with no style in looks or noise.  And all these SUVs are for the image concious, but I havent spoken to one SUV driver who doesnt hate driving.  Think about that - people buy cars to impress others rather than to impress themselves.

TStag 5 November 2019

I wonder if DS will become

I wonder if DS will become Lancia in time. Makes quite a lot of sense in Italy.

I also wonder if the new group really has the resources to lavish Alfa and Maserati with the attention it needs. I understand why they might not want to sell either brand but objecting some cash into them or some assets and then giving them to a company like JLR in return for 20% of the enlarged group might make a lot more sense.

If JLR took control of these brands then they could share many components and the next XE and Giulia might have a chance against BMW and co..... Alone I don’t thin the XE or Giulia will be replaced.