For the second month in a row, Fiat India sold more than 1.000 units, up a massive 66% on September 2012, and 8% on August 2013. It was the second best performance after Honda. Market share jumped from 0,3% in Sep/12 to 0,52% one year later. Of course there is still a lot to do as the market share continues to be quite marginal. However, Fiat proved that it can increase its presence in this important market by improving the service and products. After the introduction of Turbo engine and an entry-level version of the Linea, sales jumped 492% for this model. But how can Fiat achieve more? With the help of my Indian friend, Bharath Elango (a fan of the brand, and a happy owner of a Linea Multijet Emotion), I tried to investigate about Fiat’s position in this market and the possible things it could do in order to increase its sales.
Fiat plans to set up 100 dealerships by the end of this year (from 80 it has right now). This is certainly a good thing considering that this move helps the brand to increase not only the presence but the awareness among Indian buyers. Fiat is mostly known by car passionate and as my friend says ‘out of them only few have the courage to buy it’. Now the brand can have a better control of its final approach with the clients as it sells its cars through its own dealers. But sales is not only a matter of dealerships. Buyers will visit them if they are attracted by a product. And that’s the other field where Fiat has plenty of challenges/opportunities. Even if the Punto and Linea are good products with very competitive prices, they have been unchanged for years. The lack of news (with the exception of the engines) and the problems with service haven’t contributed either.
The introduction of new models is certainly the second step after improving dealers service. A city-car should be introduced in a market where A-Segment cars count for 36% of total sales and is the world’s second largest by volume. Along with Maruti-Suzuki, Fiat is the world’s leader making city-cars. My friend suggests that Fiat should introduce the 500L and 500L Living as he thinks “they will sell as Indians love beautiful cars at a realistic price”. I must say that I disagree at this point. Indian consumers don’t appreciate the iconic cars or the heritage behind them. As it is a young market, people are more interested in affordable and easy-handling cars than stylish or fancy ones. This fact is expected to change in the coming years. Regarding the Punto and Linea, more powerful engines should be introduced. Fiat has recently launched an entry-level of the Linea with a very competitive price. This decision is focused on gaining market share in the bottom of B-Sedan, but can have a negative impact on the full-equipped and more expensive versions.
Following the comment of a reader, 75% of Indian diesel engines (Tata, Suzuki and Chevrolet) are produced by Fiat. This tells a lot of how efficient these engines are, and all what Fiat can do with them. ‘Krunal’ proposes 3 things to do: 1) a Panda for A-Segment (that could be easily a cheaper Uno) and a modified 7-seater Sedici (I don’t think Suzuki would allow a foreign brand to bring one of its products using another logo); 2) a Fiat Viaggio powered by 1.6 Multijet engine (C-Sedans aren’t popular at all in this market); 3) better gear-box for the Linea and Punto. These are all suggestions made by Indians who believe that the brand can have an important position in the market. Anyway, the recent sales results showed that better and coordinated work is a good start. The arrival of the Punto Abarth and Jeep range will be the second step.
Many thanks to my friend Bharath Elango for the help.