Normally I use this blog to talk about everything related to Fiat Group. New cars, strategies, and results are all part of this site. I always try to write based on information, data, and facts that allow me to give my opinion about what the group should do or not. It’s true that I’m a close follower of all brands of the group, and it means that I always try to be very objective in my opinions. When there are good things I expose them without any problem. And when there is something wrong I try to analyze the problem and propose a solution. Recently, Fiat Europe presented the 500L Living and started a new product strategy that, in my opinion, are both wrong.
The 500L Living is not a bad product. After the success of the 500L, based on the Fiat 500’s values, the brand decided to enlarge the family with a 7-seater minivan for a segment between B-MPV and C-MPV. It is always good to be the first in those segments where no other is. The 500L Living will be a good option for those looking for a roomy MPV in a small package. Exterior design may not be the most beautiful, but no one can’t deny that it is a practical car, full of functional features. And that’s where I see the mistake. The new-born Fiat shines in terms of functionality and fails in terms of design, and that’s the opposite of the small 500’s values. The 500L is full of details and stylish ideas that perfectly fit with the small iconic car. But the larger version of the this MPV is closer to the Panda’s ideas than to the 500’s. That’s why I think Fiat should had developed this larger MPV under the Panda’s design language, so it could enjoy of the popularity of the small functional car and enlarge its success as well. To position a roomy and functional 7-seater minivan using the 500’s name may result in a risky operation for the health of the city-car. However, I think the 500L Living is a good product that will work only if it’s well positioned.
This new car is part of the second mistake. On the 4th of July, Fiat presented the new members of the 500 family as part of the strategy of the brand of enlarging the success of the Fiat 500. The problem is that the brand heads to a unique product-line identity and risks of being known only for the 500 family. Fiat is much more than the 500. It is an European mainstream brand equivalent to Renault, Peugeot, Opel, VW, or Ford. It is true that in the last 5 years its range of cars has been dramatically reduced and now it doesn’t offer any car in the D-segment, C-MPV, or not even a SW. But the brand can’t limit all of its efforts in only one line of products. It is not possible that the presence of Fiat brand is limited to the success of the 500. For example, the brand’s portal took the 500 family out of it and created a dedicated minisite for those looking for the city-car and its new MPV brothers. In 2012, this model counted for 23% of the brand’s sales in Europe. That isn’t a high number only because of the big demand of the Panda and Punto in Italy. Excluded Italy, the 500 counted for 29% of Fiat’s sales in Europe (Russia and Turkey comprised). The dependence on the 500 becomes even higher where the brand doesn’t have a good market share. In the UK the city-car counted for 67% of the brand’s sales. It was followed by Lithuania with 66%, Belgium, 50%, Spain 37%. In Norway, where Fiat is extremely unpopular, the 500 counted for 80% of sales. In my opinion Fiat should develop two lines of products based on their attributes: the stylish, and the practical world. The 500 is Fiat’s best achievement in the last 10 years, but I’m sure the brand can do much more with other models.