China: the countdown has finished

Today is a special day for Fiat-Chrysler Group. After some years dealing with unsuccessful joint ventures, the group has finally began its new age in China. Sergio Marchionne, Olivier Francois, and Mike Manley, among several others, have inaugurated the plant with their Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group in Changsha in central China. It is the place where from today the ‘Fei Xiang’ model (aka Viaggio) will be produced reaching in the first year 140.000 units  in a plant that can produce 400.000. Fiat has a lot of expectations about this product because it will be the last opportunity to finally sell a competitive car and get  an important part of Chinese sales. Last year the brand sold only 991 cars while GM or VW sold more than 2 million units. Although the group has arrived late in this important market there is a good mood about Italian cars and therefore they expect interesting results to reach 200.000 units by the year 2014, not bad, but very far from its European competitors. The Viaggio (aka Dodge Dart) is part of a new model that will be sold globally and is expected to arrive in Europe in 2013 with other body type to replace the bad sales figures of Fiat Bravo. Therefore it belongs to Chinese C-segment, the country’s largest: almost 5 million units sold that represent 20% of the market.

A Jeep Ad in China

But it is not the only news coming from China. Today they also began official sales of Chrysler 300 imported from America. That’s why the car will have a very high price in a unique version at 486.900 yuan or $76.000. The price will certainly affect its sales to become a car only for real fans as all its competitors from Europe (Audi-BMW-Mercedes) offer cheaper versions of their E-Segment cars. It means the official comeback of Chrysler but if they want to get an interesting piece of this important segment (6% of Chinese market) they must consider building it in China. Meanwhile Jeep is considered the brand with highest potential in China and that’s why Fiat may be considering building them in the same plant of Changsha (close to Hong Kong). In the other hand there is also Alfa Romeo, that according to Dunne & Co, a specialized company in Asian car markets, Chinese consumers love Italian fashion and Alfa could benefit from that feeling only if they offer the best products. A lot of opportunities that only confirm what Marchionne said: “We have a lot of work to do.”

Chrysler, among best scored car brands in USA

Chrysler brand occupied an important place among best scoring brands of 2012 T0tal Car Score’s list. Total Car Score is a website that aims to classify and compare cars with scores given by important car analysts. They rank cars according to an aggregate score based on the most trusted automotive authorities available. In their latest report, among premium and volume brands together, Chrysler passed from 18th place last year to 8th place in 2012 among the best qualified car makers. It had the second best growth after Kia, and is just few points after VW. In the report ther were only analyzed those car brands with more than 4 models available all over the States (not Fiat). Chrysler’s result can be an important indicator of how Americans are evaluating their cars, and how good all its products are being received by professional press and media. But the most important, it shows the new trend among Americans, who begin to believe again in the quality and final product of a company  like Chrysler, which was in bankruptcy 3 years ago.

Total Car Score, Top 10 Best Car Brands for 2012. Chrysler is above BMW and had the second best growth after Kia. Source: Total Car Score