The Fiat Punto is dead, long live the Punto

It is time for the Punto to pass away. After the end of production of the Fiat Palio in South America, the company has officially stopped the production of another glorious nameplate. The Fiat Punto has been in the market for 25 years and after 4 years of agony, the brand decided to kill the model without a direct successor. 

Punto 1The Punto was a key model for the expansion of Fiat in Europe in the 90’s. It also helped the company to keep running some of its big factories in Italy. When it was revealed in 1993, it meant that there was a new chapter in the history of Fiat. With the Punto, the Italian maker became a modern player that was able to offer cool cars for everybody.

punto (1)

Both consumers and the press confirmed this. The first generation of the Punto was the winner of the “European Car of the Year” award in 1995. At the same time, the Punto became the best-selling car in Europe in 1997, puting an end to 14 years of uninterrupted domination by the Volkswagen Golf. The Punto was an original car, affordable and with decent quality standards.

Punto 2In 1999 when Fiat revealed the second generation, the company was facing more challenging times. European competition was tougher and the position of Fiat in Italy was due to change for worse. The new Punto had a good start but soon came the GM deal which changed the priorities and the future of the model. The popularity of the Punto continued despite the problems the company was facing during those years.

Fiat-Punto-1993-1024-03The GM-Fiat marriage brought the third and last generation Punto and current Opel Corsa. Both cars shared a common platform and posted big sales results. The Fiat was launched in 2005 and became bigger and very attractive. The Grande Punto was set to become a key product for the Italian factories counting for 85% of Fiat brand local production in 2011, and almost half ot total car production in Italy.

Punto 3As Europe was heading to a deep crisis, the Punto started to show sales drops. In 2012, when the worst of the economic downturn happened, the third generation Punto was 7 years old, which is the average age of a model changeover. Fiat decided to delay any new generation project and started to focus on the Panda and 500 and on the new 500L. This was the way the company was supposed to resist the bad years.

Fiat-Grande_Punto-2005-1024-29These was all the beginning of the end of the Punto and its long agonizing years. The new marriage with Chrysler Group in 2009 helped Fiat to improve its presence as an independent player. However, the American car maker had no experience doing small cars, so a new Punto would have to start from zero and without any economic boost from an alliance. GM wasn’t there anymore to join forces with the new FCA to renew the Punto-Corsa project.

Punto 4Then the SUV boom arrived hitting the traditional segments in Europe. The small SUVs (B-SUV) started to gain traction while the subcompacts were not as appealing as before. Why should Marchionne spend FCA’s limited resources in a project that wouldn’t have the same positive effect that it could have had some years before? that was the last thing that killed the Punto. The new priority was the development of SUVs, the expansion of Jeep and the premium brands of the group.

The Fiat Punto is dead, long live the Punto. The car was available for 25 years and now says goodbye after a brilliant carreer with an abrupt end which was the consequence of bad planning and the lack of interest from the management. There won’t be a direct successor, at least for now. But the 9 million units sold will always remind us that there was a Fiat that once led the European market.

 

Source: FGW database, Auto News Europe, Bestsellingcarsblog.com, Focus2move, ANFIA, JATO, UNRAE, Carsitaly.net

 

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12 responses to “The Fiat Punto is dead, long live the Punto

  1. Still not certain of FIATs Brand values. The 500 range is chic and semi premium, then the Tipo is a ‘value’ range, then there is the Fullback and Toro. All the FCA brands need to be much stronger in their values, so customers know what they are buying into.

    Personally, I would like to see a Punto replacement as a 600, with the styling of the 500, and placed as a Mini competitor.

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  2. One remark for best selling title of the Punto in 1997.

    Punto is a great car with great results. It took only 20 months to reach the car the 1st million produced unit from debut. Uno needed 24 months to reach this one million produced unit limit. The car had perfect design, and it used the first „C” pillar rear lamp in its category.

    However there were some lucky factrors to win the Europe no. 1 title:
    • VW Golf had misfortune around 1997. Golf had a generation change in that year (the IVth generation came). The result of 1997 of Golf was the worst in the 90-ies.
    • FIAT wanted to raise the selling numbers, so the firm brought incentives. The buyers got huge discounts if they bought cars with small engine and/or small fuel consumption. So Punto, Panda, Cinquecento had very good results in 1997…

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  3. I remember as an Italian car loving school boy going into my local Fiat dealership in Yorkshire in 1993 and getting a brochure about the new Punto. Oh those rear lights were like nothing else, and I imagined owning one in that futuristic yellow golden colour!
    The second generation was less exciting and the facelift made it an awfully bland car.
    Fiat then delivered the goods in 2005 with the Grande Punto and it is criminal and madness that they just gave up. It says a lot about the 500-centred modern day Fiat and its ever declining sales.

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  4. It shows that:

    1 – Good Fiat cars sell!
    2 – It is a huge market…

    Unless they make a 5dr Fiat 500 I cannot believe Fiat will leave B Segment…

    Alfredo Altavilla, please take office soon…

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    • They are making 5 door Fiat 500 Giardiniera and AFAIK it’s not a wagon. It will come out in early 2020. And it’s in the plan including a BEV version.

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  5. Hopefully it will be called 600 Giardiniera and have a 5dr hatch called 600 alongside.
    The range could be great
    City car 500, 500C
    Super mini 600, 600X, 600G
    Dropping the 500L
    As far as Panda range, I think that this could be moved to Jeep and Dodge respectively.
    FIAT professional should be gradually run down, with RAM taking over the role, especially with the trucks. Maybe not the vans.

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  6. The Punto replacement should be a Panda SUV which would be a B segment SUV slightly smaller than the 500X and would be part of the ‘value’ range. A bit like a large Panda Cross.

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  8. Pingback: The infamous zero-stars NCAP Fiat Punto is finally discontinued with an abrupt end which was the consequence of bad planning and the lack of interest from the management.·

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