Mobi: the anti-crisis Fiat for Brazil

Fiat-Mobi-2017-1024-1fAnother big launch from Fiat. The new Mobi city-car is perhaps the brand’s most important global introduction of 2016 as it is expected to reach big production numbers and hit key markets. The Fiat Mobi was conceived, developed and manufactured in Brazil aiming to stop the big sales drop posted by the company during the last months, following the serious political and economic crisis that this country is facing right now. Fiat and Volkswagen are perhaps the two biggest losers with the current situation, strongly affected by old ranges and by the increasing popularity of smaller competitors such as Hyundai, Honda and Renault. After the arrival of the successful Toro compact pickup, it’s time for the Mobi to give Fiat some more oxygen.

Fiat Mobi vs rivalsBased on its dimensions, price and configuration, the Mobi is due to be positioned one step below the Uno, which is already considered a city-car. Following the international segmentation (see the latest update), the new Fiat should be part of a kind of sub-A segment which is also conformed by the new Renault Kwid, Maruti Alto, Hyundai Eon, and the VW Up!. They are all 5-door minicars no longer than 3,60 m which are becoming very popular in the developing countries. With its 3.596 mm length, the new Mobi becomes the second shortest Fiat after the 500 (3.546mm), and should replace the old Fiat Mille and give the consumers a modern choice in the mini-mini-car segment. It’s a new choice in a market that buys fewer cars but that could be attracted by a cheap, modern and easy car that basically uses most of the Uno successful features and adds new design language. In my opinion, the Mobi will be a complete success and at the same time it will have a negative effect on the Uno’s sales.

Fiat Mobi 2The Fiat Mobi has a positive and a negative sides. The good thing of this new city-car is that it will not only give some oxygen to Fiat operations in Brazil, but it can become a real player in other global markets such as India. This could be the very first Fiat that really fits the Indian taste following what the Renault Kwid has done so far in that market. Thanks to the Kwid, Indian became the sixth largest market for Renault, allowing the brand to increase its market share after several failed attempts with other models. There are few differences between the Kwid and the Mobi, so if Renault made it, Fiat could also have an interesting opportunity. One thing that Fiat should consider when launching the Mobi in  the Indian market (if so) is to promote it by giving it a SUV character using the Way trim, which has been the key for the success of the Kwid. The Mobi Way has all the characteristics that Indians like:  small, 5 doors, aggressive design, cheap and a big ground clearance.

MobiThe negative side of the Mobi is the possible impact it can have on the Uno’s sales. As stated above, there are very few differences between the new-born Fiat and the Uno, and this could play against the Uno, the oldest of them. Considering their look, trims, prices, things could get even worse for the Uno right after dealing with a big sales drop during the last months. I’m afraid that a big part of the Brazilian public won’t see any big differences between these two models and therefore the Uno demand would be negatively affected especially now that will turn six years without any major change. If Fiat wants to keep decent sales of this model then it should reposition it, by improving its trims and engines. The problem with upgrading the Uno is that it would definitely affect the Palio, which sits one segment above.

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6 responses to “Mobi: the anti-crisis Fiat for Brazil

  1. The press reviews have been far from perfect so far…. the comparison with vw up has not been kind aside the looks… vw has better engine, more performant and less thirsty, bigger boot, more space… and it`s only slightly bigger…
    India`s prospect could be a good idea.

  2. But the vw up! is much more expensive i believe and its sales performance in brazil is declining badly from already none-too-exalted levels.

    As for the MOBI in india: as a product it would seem apt. Except for the fact that India’s low volumes and low-trust (sometimes even among enthusiasts and fans) for the Fiat brand (after sales service+resale values) require that there be heavy exports out of india. Or else the necessary scale to justify the near-total localization required is difficult to visualize. Absent exports to europe from india of the MOBI, it’s rather doubtful FCA/Fiat has enough export demand for the Mobi, given Fiat’s concentration in LatAm and near-absence in Asia-pac, where it is clear that it is Jeep (+Alfa) that are the growth/go-to brands/models.

    For now/next 2 years at least FCA will therefore focus exclusively on the just-launched JEEP brand, imo, and the localization of the rhd diesel new Jeep c-suv/new ‘Compass’ for a 2017 launch (including, and especially, for rhd exports).

  3. The Mobi seems to be an exercize in futility and duplicity, as it targets the exact same customer group as the Uno. This model may end up replacing the legendary Uno if sales keep dropping.

    It perplexes me why Marchionne would approve product duplication for certain brands and markets, while not allowing it for others. While Fiat spends it’s engineering money on duplicating a low margin product for a declining South American market, Chrysler is completely deprived of high margin crossovers to sell in the fastest growing segment and market.

    • Hi Bob. I agree with you, at the end the Mobi will kill the Uno. I also think that Chrysler should have a SUV in its range. The same for Dodge, which only has the big Durango.

  4. MOBI has all the ingredients to be a successful model in India. BUT, as Prabhjot mentioned, Fiat brand is loosing its faith, even among the Fiat fans. Right now, Fiat in India is more of a technology/design demonstrator, rather then major automobile manufacturer. We, the Fiat Fans of India, are eagerly waiting for a day when Sales and Trust of Fiat increases.
    To do so, I think joint dealership of FIAT and JEEP will be helpful. At least, dealers will be happy to have two brands in one place.And that may result in more profit. (may also result in more dealers/service centers across country).

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