Today is a special day for Fiat-Chrysler Group. After some years dealing with unsuccessful joint ventures, the group has finally began its new age in China. Sergio Marchionne, Olivier Francois, and Mike Manley, among several others, have inaugurated the plant with their Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group in Changsha in central China. It is the place where from today the ‘Fei Xiang’ model (aka Viaggio) will be produced reaching in the first year 140.000 units in a plant that can produce 400.000. Fiat has a lot of expectations about this product because it will be the last opportunity to finally sell a competitive car and get an important part of Chinese sales. Last year the brand sold only 991 cars while GM or VW sold more than 2 million units. Although the group has arrived late in this important market there is a good mood about Italian cars and therefore they expect interesting results to reach 200.000 units by the year 2014, not bad, but very far from its European competitors. The Viaggio (aka Dodge Dart) is part of a new model that will be sold globally and is expected to arrive in Europe in 2013 with other body type to replace the bad sales figures of Fiat Bravo. Therefore it belongs to Chinese C-segment, the country’s largest: almost 5 million units sold that represent 20% of the market.
But it is not the only news coming from China. Today they also began official sales of Chrysler 300 imported from America. That’s why the car will have a very high price in a unique version at 486.900 yuan or $76.000. The price will certainly affect its sales to become a car only for real fans as all its competitors from Europe (Audi-BMW-Mercedes) offer cheaper versions of their E-Segment cars. It means the official comeback of Chrysler but if they want to get an interesting piece of this important segment (6% of Chinese market) they must consider building it in China. Meanwhile Jeep is considered the brand with highest potential in China and that’s why Fiat may be considering building them in the same plant of Changsha (close to Hong Kong). In the other hand there is also Alfa Romeo, that according to Dunne & Co, a specialized company in Asian car markets, Chinese consumers love Italian fashion and Alfa could benefit from that feeling only if they offer the best products. A lot of opportunities that only confirm what Marchionne said: “We have a lot of work to do.”
you know what? a couple of days ago i passed in front of mirafiori and i saw many viaggios (or darts, i’m not sure they were camouflaged) and 500L (or XL)
The Viaggio is expected to appear in Geneva next year according to some information. I don’t know if it will be called the same or if they will offer it only in 5 door hatchback, but it seems the time for the beauty Bravo is finishing.
If Fiat replaces the Italian-built Bravo with a Chinese-built Viaggio hatchback, it’ll essentially replace a slow-selling car with an unsellable car, as nobody in Europe will be interested in buying a Chinese-made car.
Times have changed and Chinese cars are experimenting big changes in terms of quality. Of course it won’t be easy but remember what used to happen to Korean brands just 10 years ago, and look how well they are doing in Europe. If Fiat build the new C-Segment car in China it will be much more cheaper to produce and maybe easier to sell. If this Chinese Fiat has a good quality I don’t see why not to sell it in Europe. Besides, I’m sure Fiat’s new factory in China will become more efficient than any other in Italy