Tipo, 124 Spider & Fullback: drivers of change?

Fiat 8Contrary to what happened during the last 5 years, when Fiat brand barely presented one all-new car per year, in 2015 the company has revealed 3 all-new nameplates. The Tipo sedan, the 124 Spider and the Fullback pickup are expected to enlarge the Fiat EMEA’s current range shortly. Three totally different cars that arrive at a time when the European division starts to be profitable again and heads to its first full year breakeven point after years burning money. In fact last month FCA posted a sales growth of 19% in the European 5 major countries. The increase was driven by the sales in the Italian market (+26%) and by Fiat (+21%) and Jeep brand (+57%). It seems that things are working again for the group in Europe despite the fact the marginal market share FCA has outside Italy. Are the new Tipo, 124 Spider and Fullback going to help to improve this? I doubt it.

Fiat Tipo

The Tipo was conceived to replace the success of the Fiat Linea in Turkey. The difference this time is that there will be other body-types besides the sedan. The brand will show the Tipo hatchback and the Tipo SW at Geneva motor show in March 2016, but so far the only Tipo available will be the sedan, on sale not only in Turkey but in Western Europe as well. The main attribute of this new compact family will be the price as already seen with the current offers for the Tipo sedan, with prices starting at 12.500 euro. Excluding the negative effects a compact car like this will have on the Punto, the Tipo sedan won’t bring big changes to Fiat in Europe. The main reason for this is the lack of interest for this kind of cars in the big markets like Germany, the UK, France and even Italy.

The Tipo joins Fiat range right when the brand is performing quite well in Europe. Italy counted for 50% of the brand sales. The brand lost market share in Germany and the UK, despite the arrival of the 500X. Source: ACEA, UNRAE, CCFA, SMMT, KBA and ANIACAM

The Tipo joins Fiat range right when the brand is performing quite well in Europe. Italy counted for 50% of the brand sales. The brand lost market share in Germany and the UK, despite the arrival of the 500X. Source: ACEA, UNRAE, CCFA, SMMT, KBA and ANIACAM

The best examples are VW Group with its Seat Toledo and Skoda Rapid sedan (B-Segment), PSA with the Peugeot 301 and Citroen C-Elysee (B-Segment), or the sedan versions of the Opel Astra, Ford Focus, the VW Jetta and the Renault Fluence (C-Segment). They are only popular in Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey, and some of them are not even available at their home markets. Why a Fiat would change that? the low price is the best reason the brand gives, but are the usual subcompact customers looking for a larger sedan? in my opinion the Tipo sedan is only an experiment in an attempt to enlarge the current poor European range, extremely concentrated on the 500 family. The brand had to replace the Linea so it created the Tipo sedan and while the hatchback and SW arrive (which won’t change many things as well, as in my opinion they won’t sell more than 50.000 units/year), they bring the Tipo to Europe in order to have something new to tell.

Fiat 124 Spider

It’s the car that Fiat needs in USA. The small 500 is having problems there with sales plunging by 25%, while the 500L is a totally flop with only 7.555 units sold in November YTD, down 31%. The arrival of the 500X has helped to offset these two big falls, but it’s clear that while the new generation of the iconic 500 arrives, Fiat needed something more chic than the tiny 500 family. The new Fiat 124 Spider features everything to be considered an image product that will certainly contribute to improve the image and rise the awareness in North America. However it won’t be anything different from a niche-market car right as it will be positioned and perceived in the European market.

The new Fiat 124 Spider will have a bigger impact in USA than in Europe. In November 2015 the new 500X counted for 61% of the brand sales in that country. The 500 and 500L are facing difficult times there. Source: Good Car Bad Car

The new Fiat 124 Spider will have a bigger impact in USA than in Europe. In November 2015 the new 500X counted for 61% of the brand sales in that country. The 500 and 500L are facing difficult times there. Source: Good Car Bad Car

While it’s expected to be priced starting at 25.000 euro, this car won’t bring significant changes to Fiat in Europe. Of course they need to improve their image and reputation and a small spider like the 124 can help. But that’s it. The car won’t bring big volumes and it could create confusion among consumers as there won’t be a clear brand positioning: is Fiat a mainstream car maker? a niche one? an iconic-cars leader? or a cheap and easy-to-maintain brand?

Fiat Fullback

The Fullback is the “Italian rebadge” of the Mitsubishi L200, built in Thailand. This new Fiat will join a growing segment within the commercial vehicles market that’s mostly controlled by the Japanese brands.  According to Fiat Professional, the brand that will “host” the Fullback, this segment counts for 23% of the LCV EMEA market, or 675.000 units/year. This kind of vehicles are very popular in the Middle East and in a large part of Africa. The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling car in Saudi Arabia and in many African countries.

The Fiat Fullback will face competition from the strong Toyota Hilux (the best-selling car in Saudi Arabia), Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and VW Amarok.

The Fiat Fullback will face competition from the popular Toyota Hilux (the best-selling car in Saudi Arabia), Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and VW Amarok.

It’s not the case in Europe where is hard to see them, even in the case of the VW Amarok. The Fullback joins an important segment under the efficient Fiat Professional brand but the question is if the traditional buyer of pickups will consider Fiat as an option after years driving Toyota, Mitsubishi or Nissan. Fiat can barely sell its iconic 500 in the Middle East, and its presence in Africa is quite reduced. There’s a very low awareness there and the very few is mostly associated to small and cheap cars. Is the Fullback going to change that?

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22 responses to “Tipo, 124 Spider & Fullback: drivers of change?

  1. The 12.500€ price for the Tipo is a promotional price.
    It will start at 14.500€ after the promotion ends. The hatch and SW are important to compete in the C-segment and they will bring sales volume that Fiat is lacking beyond the 500 range. Even if it’s just 50.000 cars per year.
    You should’ve analyzed how the Skoda Octavia does in Europe and not the Rapid sedan because the Octavia does quite well.

    Also Alfredo Altavilla stated that the Punto will stay in the market for a long while and that it will be replaced by a model in the rational side of the family (like the Tipo).
    http://www.alvolante.it/news/intervista-alfredo-altavilla-fiat-344206

    I really don’t understand the lack of ambition from FCA in Europe…

    • So far it looks like we are all wrong about the Tipos prospects (thankfully). Last year it managed 61k sales in Europe + just over 30k sales in Turkey. So pretty close to 100k, That’s more than the Bravo ever managed.

      This year, European sales of the Tipo are about 34K after the fist quarter. Turkish sales of the Egea are just over 8k, If this were to hold up – the Tipo/Egea could easily beat 150k this year.

  2. Anything FCA badges as ‘Fiat’ right now won’t sell well unless it has 500 stamped on it. Unfortunately the car industry is the land of stereotypes and Fiat has little appeal in the light of its troubled past. Till this changes and it can change (do you all remember when brands such as kia were looked at with misstrust?) it is probably a sound strategy for FCA to use gap-fillers such as the Tipo. I am sure even they know it won’t sell much in EU – but what’s the harm in shipping some to dealers and see? …afterall Turkey is just around the corner.

    …love this website btw! Keep it up, keep it going!

  3. FCA seem to be carrying on in typical Italian fashion, build a car you think is good and think how and where to market it, whereas the BMW, Mercedes and VW do this the other way round. They look at the markets and create a car to fill the space in the market. If FCA don’t start doing this they will continue to rise and fall as they have in previous years.
    My thoughts would be for the FIAT brand to develop into 3 families, Chic, functional and development, but concentrate on small cars. The Chic range would carry on the 500 concept and sold in EMEA and US, while the Panda style would be the functional range, again sold in EMEA but also in BRIC, not US; the development range would be the Tipo, Punto and Chinese ‘Dart’ (forgotten the name), and aimed at BRIC countries, as mentioned in the article. Platforms would be kept simple, just bodywork would change depending on sales area.

  4. The Tipo will be successfull only turkey and italy will guarantee at least 40/50.000 units than another 10.000 all over other european markets will be easily reached ….when the sw will be available another 20.000 units more in segments where now fiat’s sales are zero

      • So far this year the Tipo/Egea has sold almost 75000 units in Europe and Turkey. I believe the manufacturing capacity was planned to be 90000 cars a year max. Looks like they will hit that this year. Its not a huge number but its as well as the Bravo ever did. Fiat has a history of failing to keep models updated in the market place with new content (see Punto, though they did make continuous improvements to the 500). Hopefully they work to keep the Tipo updated so that it doesn’t die too quickly.

  5. It’s not particularly impressive of Fiat to bring out 3 new nameplates, because two of them are rebadges of other manufacturers’ products, and the third is a third-world special that should never have been launched in Europe in the first place.

    • Well, IF european or any non-luxe marques could make ANY money sustainedly over business cycles with the current fare…Marchionne would not need what you most uncharitably indeed falsely call a ‘third world special’: the turkish-made Tipo models. The Tipo compromises nothing for a family car, and yet is vastly well-priced, and will make FCA a good amount of money. IF Europe continues at this rate of political-economic malaise and unreconstructed nationalist etc hand-wringing, breast-beating etc it WILL become ever-increasingly third world on its own. Witness large parts of the UK and the USA. ALL the european mass-market marques lose money, net, over not just this but over the last several business cycles, ford, opel, psa, renault and the vw too. Still think the Tipo is a bad idea? The EU ship floats these days only on the basis of central bank QE, just as the USA’s has done over the last few years. BUT a car company has to act on more real-economy bases: hence the collaborative project with Mazda too. The 124 is NOT a re-badge. The FullBack, sure, but hey it is a very fine and reputed vehicle of its particular class, so why not? especially if making it in-house in europe or even turkey/serbia etc would have been lucky to be profitable.

      • The only brands that are making profit in Europe are premium brands or low cost ones.
        Fiat has a reputation of making cheap cars (even if they still maintain a bit of reputation of being unreliable in a few markets) therefore they can ride on that.

        The Tipo being built in Turkey doesn’t mean they cut corners in doing it. Just that the manufacturing costs are lower than in the EU. Sure it could have a better infotainment system and more engine options (ex. a small 1.0 turbo petrol engine, a more powerful 1.6 Multijet) but in the present options it is decent.

        And the styling they used has certain similarities with Dodge models meaning that after this model they will probably start sinergyzing more with Dodge in the future.

      • We’ll see if Europeans understand the latest move of Fiat. It’s hard to become a premium or a low-cost brand in a short period of time.

  6. The Tipo sedan sold 1000 units in the first weekend on sale in Italy. Not bad numbers at all…

  7. Tipo is not compromising with the options, as I heard for first deliveries in Italy. Sedan sure will be more simple, cheaper and affordable, although, as I heard, middle pack in preorder vehicels already has park senzors, diesels even have rear parking cam. But Tipo HB and SW will have the same electronics and options as 500X/Renegade, will be more expensive and aimed at EU markets.

  8. Tipo sold at 50k cars at year for all three versions? lol
    In that case more debt for FIAT.

    Actually, their plan is to produce 165k Tipos per year.

  9. How does the fullback relate to the Toro that was just released in Brazil? I’m a little confused on that.

    RE: Tipo. Remember the sedan is also the basis for the next Dodge Neon and Chrysler 100. So a lot of the design and engineering costs can be shared. Estimate about 15-20K sales per year in Italy and about 35K per year in Turkey. Lets be kind and add 10K sales for the rest of Europe combined. Its likely to be profitable at that level.

    Do we know yet if India and South America will get the sedan model ? If its priced more like the Siena it could sell well. But the Linea has never done well there.

    If the hatch can do another 50-75K a year then in total that’s a pretty big leap in european sales for Fiat. But that will depend on if they can take sales from the i30 and Kia C’eed I think,

  10. So in Turkey it sold 38260 units in 2016. Up to the end of Nov in Europe it had sold 53416. Estimate about 7000 units for December in Europe and it looks like the Tipo sold just under 100K for the year.

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