Fiat may not be attractive and not even profitable, but it is the biggest brand in terms of sales volume. My own figures indicate that 1,52 million units were sold/delivered/registered last year. That’s 1,1% higher than the total seen in 2016. One in three cars sold by FCA globally is a Fiat. Therefore it is very valid the discussion about how this brand can become a problem in case of a merge or acquisition negotiation. Fiat represents a big part of the volume, but is not attractive and it is not expected to be profitable.
EMEA is a key region for Fiat, as 70% of its global sales took place there. Volume grew by 2,7% thanks mostly to the very well received Fiat Tipo/Egea, which outsold the popular Fiat 500 (Abarth figures not included) and became the second best-selling Fiat in the region. Besides Italy, Fiat is also popular in Turkey, its second largest market in the region and one of the drivers of growth last year (+13%). Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Lithuania and Greece also contributed to more volume sold. In the opposite side there were Morocco, UK, Denmark and Czech Republic where Fiat had challenging times.
Despite the growth in this region, the situation of Fiat is becoming dramatic. It doesn’t have a big range of products with only one SUV, and most of them are getting aged. The problem is that it seems that nothing new will arrive this year, and the current range will have to deal with more challenging times in Europe for at least 18 more months. If it wants to grow, Fiat EMEA needs at least more SUVs and an all-new Fiat 500.
Outside EMEA, Fiat is only visible in Brazil and Argentina, or what they call LATAM. Based on data for the four largest markets for the brand in Latin America – Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – the results are also positive, with volume growing by 2,1% to 399.100 units. Brazilian good results during the last months of the year were not enough to offset the drops recorded before. Argentina saved the day as total volume grew by 28% following big increases posted by the new Fiat Mobi and Toro.
Too bad in APAC and NAFTA, where Fiat is slowly disappearing from the rankings as a consequence of not having competitive products for the majority of these markets. Combined sales in 8 markets in Asia-Pacific posted a 49,3% decline from 30.900 units in 2016 to 15.600 vehicles in 2017. The main cause of this dramatic change was the bad situation of the brand in China and India, the world’s first and 5th largest car markets. The locally made Ottimo and Viaggio in China, and Punto and Linea in India are a complete flop that ruined the image of Fiat brand over there. China, India and Australia demand SUVs, and more competitive products.
The situation in North America is also quite disappointing. The Fiat 500 family doesn’t stop losing ground in USA, where sales for 2017 were the second lowest since 2011, when the brand was reintroduced. The iconic 500 hasn’t been updated and the 500L and 500X are too small to be considered the big versions of the tiny 500. The arrival of the 124 Spider didn’t solve the problem, and as long as Fiat doesn’t update its current line up and doesn’t add a bigger SUV, it will continue to lose ground.
The Tipo/Egea was Fiat’s protagonist in 2017. Thanks to this model the brand was able to offset the losses recorded by the Panda, Ducato, 500X and 500L. The Turkish-made Fiat is an example of how the brand can grab a decent piece of the market with a competitive car in terms of price and look. The Tipo sits at the bottom of the compact segment due to its price, and features a modern design proving that Fiat can succeed with cheap and attractive cars. The other winners came from Brazil with the new Mobi more than doubling its sales, and the Toro up by 45%.
Source: FGW database, Automotive News Europe, Bestsellingcarsblog.com, Carsitaly.net, KBA, SMMT, UNRAE, ANIACAM, CCFA, FENABRAVE, Autoblog Argentina, JATO Dynamics, Autoblog Uruguay, Motor.com.co, Goodcarbadcar.net