Fiat Palio, the most produced car in Argentina

The new Palio is produced also in Argentina since April 2012

The new Palio is produced also in Argentina since April 2012

Good news come from South America. In November 2012 the new Fiat Palio was Argentina’s most manufactured car. All car makers produced 78.000 units, 3.2% more than previous November, but 1.8% down compared to October 2012. YTD production is down 9.4% to 703.472 units, making of Argentina the third largest producer in Latin America and above other important markets such as Italy. In that month the new generation Palio was the most produced car over there with almost 6.000 units. Fiat produced more Palios than traditional leaders like the Ford Focus (5.115) and Chevrolet Agile (5.090). Most of this production is headed to Brazil, where the demand of this car is growing up so fast that is getting close to Fiat’s best-seller Uno (November YTD indicates that Palio demand is up  81%). In Argentina the new Palio is also very popular but as a big part of local production is sold out in Brazil, Fiat can’t supply the demand and people must wait for months to get their car. That’s why the demand for Argentinian market is so weak (up only 4.1%). The new Palio is being produced in Cordoba, Argentina, since April 2012. At the beginning they produced around 200 units per day but they want to increase it up to 500 units. The car is produced with 3 different engines: 1.4 Evo, 1.0 Flex and 1.4 Flex for Brazilian market. Initial target was to produce 60.000 units of both, Siena and Palio, by the end of the year. YTD November figures show that Fiat has produced 66.682 cars. They made it but 2012 numbers are far away from last year results. In 2011 Fiat produced 110.000 units, with the Siena counting for 78%. Among all car makers in Argentina, Fiat is the one with the deepest fall in production, down 39%. VW is down 12%, GM -6%, and Ford -13%.

Argentinian industry is down 9% due to less local demand and economic problems regarding exchange rate and inflation. Fiat's share is 9.5% compared to 9.8% of demand market share. Source: ADEFA

Argentinian industry is down 9% due to less local demand and economic problems regarding exchange rate and inflation. Fiat’s share is 9.5% compared to 9.8% of demand market share. Source: ADEFA

More news

Fiat Brazil has announced that double airbag, ABS and EBD are now standard for the entry version of the Uno. This is a response to two facts: from January 2014 all cars produced in Brazil must count on this features. And secondly, because the Uno is losing market share and its sales continue to drop. Fiat wants to increase the competitiveness of the model just as it did with other versions of it (the Way and Economy) and Fiat Strada Working in October. The price of the car rises R $1.000 (US$480): Novo Uno Vivace 1.0 3P (US$12.150) and Novo Uno Vivace 5P (US$12.960). The demand of this model has fallen 5% so far this year.

Two airbags, ABD and EBD are now standard in entry version of the Uno

Two airbags, ABD and EBD are now standard in entry version of the Uno

Yesterday Maserati launched the new Quattroporte in Nice, France. The car was presented officially to specialized press in an event hosted by Maserati’s CEO, Harald Wester. According to him, Maserati expects to sell 13.000 units of this new flagship next year (prices start around 145.000 euro). USA will count for a big part as they want to make use of 2.300 Chrysler dealerships all over the country. The Quattroporte is the first step of a 2015 goal of selling 50.000 Maseratis worldwide annually. Then will come the SUV Levante (aka Kubang) and a smaller sedan, the Ghibli. Finally, by the year 2015 the new GranTurismo and GranCabrio will make their debut (they are expected to be lighter and may use Alfa Romeo 4C base). Maserati sold 6.159 cars last year, and the fact they want to sell 8 times more in just 3 years makes some analysts not to believe it. IHS, a specialized provider of diverse global market and economic information, said that Maserati could sell 28.100 cars by that year. Others, like Euromonitor, think that the brand has the right reputation and clients coming from USA and China, but the target is “incredibly ambitious”.

Maserati wants to sell 13.000 units of its new flagship next year. Photo by: Autopareri.com

Maserati wants to sell 13.000 units of its new flagship next year. Photo by: Autopareri.com

Fiat has announced it will lay off around 1.500 workers, a third of its workforce, at its factory in Tychy, Poland. It is a response to lower demand of the cars produced over there. Fiat is the largest car producer in Poland and in 2009 they manufactured 600.000 units and this year it is expected to be under 350.000 cars. Volume for next year is expected to be around 300.000 units. Currently Fiat Poland produces the 500 for European and some Asian markets, its twin from Ford, the Ka, the second generation Panda and the new Ypsilon. However by the end of this month the Panda output will be halted forever as the new model completes one year in the market. The reduction of production levels is a fact expected by many as Fiat decided to move the production of the best-seller Panda to Italy. By that time Fiat said nothing would had happened to Poland output as the new Ypsilon was going to be produced in return. Nevertheless the Ypsilon is a popular car but only in Italy and now faces tough times with sales drop of 17% so far this year. It also means that Fiat may not be considering Poland for making its next C-Segment (aka Fiat Viaggio hatchback) for European market. Turkey or Serbia are in mind?

Source: ADEFA, Autoesporte, Automotive News Europe

The Italian crisis and the extinction of Ferraris

The tittle may be shocking, but it explains what is going on in the troubled Italy with expensive cars. According to Bloomberg news the situation with luxury cars is becoming dramatic in Italy because of the financial crisis and governments measures. It is not only a matter of new car sales figures, which are down an incredible 20%, but is also about the impossibility of having the Ferraris, Maserati, Porsche or Lambos in a country where new taxes appear every day and the fight against tax evaders has become an official duty. That’s why many Italians are exporting their super cars in order to avoid tax payments or the persecution of police. According to the article, the number of secondhand high performance cars exported from Italy was up 177% in the first 5 months of 2012, when 13.633 cars were taken out of the country. Italian authorities began a raid against all tax evaders going to exclusive places where all the millionaires go with their supercars. By doing it they could know who was really declaring the right income and therefore paying enough taxes. And as expected, Italian police has found several people enjoying their ‘toys’ and having the ‘dolce vita’ without paying the right amount of taxes. It is certainly a pity in a country known by its supercars in its wonderful roads.

Ferrari and Maserati sales figures in their main markets during 2011. They are Fiat’s most profitable brands. Source: Ferrari Annual Report via Torque News.

The rise on taxes to luxury cars has affected for the first time high performance luxury brands. Most of the times, this kind of cars is more resilient to economic crisis as millionaires are the last ones to suffer the consequences of a recession.  But in Italy things are different and Ferrari for example forecasts a fall on its new car sales of 47%, while they keep increasing their exports to China, the Middle East and the US. Eventhough local market is decreasing for Ferrari and Maserati, they keep being Fiat Group’s most profitable brands. Just in the first half of the year both brands had a combined operational profit of 175 million euros, with an awesome margin of 12.2%, beating BMW’s 11.6%, and helping Fiat Group to decrease its losses. It seems Italian economic crisis is not only affecting the small Panda and 500 but also the gorgeous Ferrari 458 and Maserati Gran Turismo.

Mondial de l’Automobile Paris 2012, the news from Fiat-Chrysler

Paris Autoshow is the next important car exhibition show in Europe. It will take place from September 29th till October 14th 2012 and is expected to be a regular autoshow without any espectacular launches due to European economic crisis. However it will be the place for the introduction of new generation of Renault Clio (the most important car in the event) and some other important cars from Germany. As it gathers all major auto press of the world, all car makers should introduce whether  a new car, a revised or new versions of existing models. From Fiat-Chrysler Group there will not be a lot of news. This is because Fiat is delaying all its launches waiting for better times and because the group is now focusing in other important markets with higher potential such as China, Russia, India or even Brazil or USA.

This is the render for Maserati Quattroporte 2013 shown by Italian car magazine, Quattroporte

The most interesting launch of the group will be the new generation of Maserati Quattroporte. It is expected to be larger, more powerful and luxury to gain more market share as the brand wants to reach 60.000 units by the year 2014 from 8.000 units sold last year. According to Quattroruote magazine, it will be lighter, but larger and will be moved by a V8 and V6 engines. Though they say it will be only presented in Detroit 2013 because they Fiat guys will be concentrated in the arrival of Super Ferrari with more than 800 hp. Another release will be the Fiat Panda 4X4, based on the current Panda but higher and better suspension. The mini car is suposed to hit the market as the unique full four wheel drive available with interesting prices. Of course there will be place for the Fiat 500L and maybe they could show the 500XL, but the reality should place it in Geneva 2013. Maybe new versions for the Fiat 500, while the Punto could get more engines. Ferrari, as said before, will show its new super car to replace the Enzo, and is expected to have more than 800 hp. Certainly it will be one of the stars of the event. From the other brands nothing new.

It shows how it looks the new Fiat Panda 4×4 according to carscoop.blogspot.com

Is a pity brands such as Alfa or Lancia, or even Fiat don’t have anything really new. Paris is a big event where all Europeans brands show their best. It would be the perfect place to present new generation of Fiat Punto, that should not be delayed anymore as it is a core product of the company. Alfa Romeo should have the new Giulia or at least the Giulietta Station Wagon or MiTo 5 doors, but again they will take more time and therefore there will be less sales. Lancia should present a deep restyling of the beauty Delta, which is rapidly loosing market share in Italy. Maserati should not only present the new Quattroporte but also the new E-segment sedan (supposedly called Levante) if they really want to multiple their sales by 10. And Jeep should be thinking of a great successor for its compact Compass. Marchionne could be waiting more time to save some money, but consumers might not be waiting more to change their car. And it works even more when talking of the Punto. Paris 2012 will be the place.

What comes for Maserati

From 6.000 to 50.000 units in 4 years. That’s Maserati’s main goal and therefore the brand of the group with the most ambitious plans ever. It seems to be easy, as the final goal is not really a big deal for an automotive group that sells around 4 million units per year. But those units refer to a brand that seems to be more craft made than mass production. Maserati is nowadays Ferrari’s second line of products: an exclusive brand with high class models for rich people. In other words, it is the brand that makes the cars that Ferrari can’t do: a large sedan and more fancy cabrios and coupes. It has worked like that for decades and it has allowed it to gain an enormous reputation as luxury, fancy and high class Italian car. Now things hava changed and Maserati is getting ready to open to new things: new models, new markets, new conceptions of luxury. And the first step will be accomplished by the year 2016.

Maserati GranTurismo

Maserati GranTurismo

The brand offers two different models at the moment: the ‘F’ segment Quattroporte (on sale from 2004) and the twins GranTurismo and GranCabrio. There were sold 6.159 (+8,5%) of them in 2011 all over the world. North America counts for 40% of total sales, followed by China (13%), Italy (7%) and Japan, the UK, UAE, Australia, Germany and Switzerland. It means Maserati could be the most global brand of the group in terms of diversified sales. It is a good begining for a brand that wants to become a global player in the luxury segment. Its good image can be found everywhere thanks to its solid reputation, quality of its products and awesome marketing. It can be also explained by the good partnership there is between Maserati and Ferrari. But selling just two models starting at US$134.000 is not the best way to increase sales. They must find the best way to become more ‘popular’ without risking the reputation of the brand. Harald Wester, Maserati’s CEO, and his team will do it.

Maserati Kubang Concept. Photo by Next Auto Show

Maserati Kubang Concept. Photo by Next Auto Show

The plans so far include an ‘E’ segment sedan to compete with Mercedes E Class and BMW 5 Series. This sedan, that some people say will be called ‘Levante’ will have the biggest part of the job: it is expected to sell 30.000 or half of the goal. According to Italian press, it will be presented in 2014. The possible Levante should be the access model to luxury sedans of Maserati and could be launched at US$90.000. Meanwhile the already known Kubang (the name should be changed for the production version) will make its debut in 2014 sharing platform with Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s a pitty to wait so long for this beauty SUV, as it really liked most of specialized press and public. The Kubang could be an enormous success in China, USA and in the Middle East but to wait until 2014 would make competition even harder as Germans are preparing to increase their Luxury SUV portfolio: the next Bentley, the Cayenne and next Pajun and next Audi Q7. The large Quattroporte is also getting ready for its next generation to be shown in Paris 2012. It will be a referent in the ‘F’ segment for its quality and beauty. Finally, another sporty car might come. The Alfa 4C to be launched in 2013 should be the base for a extremely light Maserati, which would be more a marketing product than a real player to get more sales as they would produce around 1.500-2.000 units/year.

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT Awards Edition. Photo by netcarshow.com

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT Awards Edition. Photo by netcarshow.com

Maserati has a lot of potential. It can become the Italian Porsche: they can offer a lot of models that Ferrari must not. Maserati must develop at least 2 SUV focusing on Chinese and Middle East markets. At the same time should increase the options for ‘F’ passenger cars segment with more versions for the Quattroporte (larger version for China). They should accelerate the project of possible Levante and there offer the best Italian luxury sedan with the best performance options with possibility of other body types: cabrio and coupe. In the sporty range, they should develop smaller cabrios and coupes, with Ferrari engines, and accelerate the succesors of GranCoupe/GranCabrio. All those models would allow Maserati to become even more attractive and known by high clasess all over the world. In other words: Maserati should become a real threat to Germans: Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche, increasing its range of products but keeping its exlusiveness, something that are loosing those Germans car makers. Doing that, Italians could reach almost 200.000 units, by increasing registrations in its native Italy, Europe, USA and reach about 24.000 units in China, 20.500 in Japan and 40.000 in the Middle East. Non of those numbers are unreachable.

One more member to Cinquecento family: Abarth 695 Edizione Maserati

Abarth 695 Edizione Maserati. Photo by netcarshow.com

Finally, Abarth has shown its 695 Edizione Maserati. It was suposed to be presented in Geneva 2012 but without no explanation Fiat’s sportive brand decided not to do it. As they did with 695 Tributo Ferrari, this version of small 500 will have Maserati’s specific touches outside and inside while it will be moved by 180 hp. Certainly it is another hit by Abarth no matter its price (more than $50.000 €). The mini super car has also sequential gearbox ‘dualmode’ Monza inspired by Maserati Quattroporte and 17″ wheels with strong Maserati inspiration. Inside, Maserati’s luxury is evident: Frau leather for seats, carbon fyber cockpit, and a JBL sound system with 9 speakers and 400 watts. Fiat will only produce 499 units and it seems they will not have any problem selling them as they did with limited edition of Tributo Ferrari.

Regular Fiat 500 for Europe. Photo by netcarshow.com

Regular Fiat 500 for Europe. Photo by netcarshow.com

Though it is a small number of units produced, it is certainly a good news for Fiat brand. They continue to enlarge the successful 500 family making useful of its original shape for several type of clients. Limited editions as Maserati one may not enlarge units sold but create what is called viral marketing: it makes press and people to talk about it again, no matter it was launched 5 years ago. The car is now in the headlines and this helps to boost general sales. Something that takes even more relevance nowadays when competition in ‘A’ segment is getting tough with arrival of VW Up! Italians are excellent producing small and sporty cars: in one hand people prefer Italians minis and in the other one, they dream about having a Ferrari or a Maserati. They are doing very good at offering the 695 Edizione Maserati: they offer both cars in one at a ‘regular’ price and therefore generate a good impact within users and social networks.

Fiat 500C. Photo by netcarshow.com

Fiat 500C. Photo by netcarshow.com

With this arrival, 500 family is gettin big now: first it came the regular Cinquecento presented in 2007 only for European markets. Then in 2009, they showed the Abarth version. Meanwhile the 500C appeared. Then, in Geneva 2011 they showed the Fiat 500 by Zagato as a concept and 500 by Gucci, after the success of 500 by Diesel. This year they finally introduced the 500L, a family version of it. The work Fiat has done with this model is an example to follow in other segments. They not only created an icon of design and style, but also a referent in the segment of small and exclusive cars. Fiat could open a new segment within the ‘A’ segment with a car that is practical, but at the same time luxury and original. A car that has become popular everywhere it has been introduced and has been able to project a family design shape.

Fiat 500 by Zagato Concept in Geneva 2011

So far Fiat and Abarth have been able to meet needs from bachelor students who get their first ca up to single business men who want a second and fast car. The target is getting big as the range of Cinquecentos. Sale’s numbers can confirm it: since July 2007 when it was presented in Turin, Fiat 500 have accumulated more than 750.000 units sold worldwide becoming a real success in Italy, France, England, the Netherlands, Greece, Japan and now becoming popular in its new markets: America, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The 500L will come to increase even more these numbers as it will offer another kind of car based on 500’s main idea: practicality and originality with Italian touch.

Abarth 500C essesse. Photo by netcarshow.com

Abarth 500C essesse. Photo by netcarshow.com

Fiat 500 for American market. Photo by netcarshow.com

Fiat 500 for American market. Photo by netcarshow.com

Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari Interior. Photo by netcarshow.com

Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari Interior. Photo by netcarshow.com

Fiat 500L, available in fall 2012

Fiat 500L, available in fall 2012

Looking for opportunities: Middle East car market

Photo by Richard Allenby-Pratt, photographer

Jeep Grand Cherokee. Photo by Richard Allenby-Pratt

When it is about big SUV and trucks most of people think of American market. Certainly the US is known for being the place for large Ford, Rams, Sequoias and Tahoes. Their big roads and consumption have made these cars another product to be part of their lifes. But what most of people don’t know is that far away from there, in a really different culture, the big SUVs from Detroit and Japan find their world’s largest market share: the Middle East.

Thanks to great website bestsellingcarsblog.com, more information has been able about what it is called the Gulf Cooperation Council, composed by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. And the numbers they gather together are not trivial. In 2011, more than 1.2 million cars, which represents a market larger than Australia’s and just behind South Korea’s or Canadian one. It is obvious that the good economic situation of these countries thanks to their big quantities of oil reserves, has translated to better economic conditions to some of their population. The strong and fast development can be seen in amazing cities as Dubai, Abu Dhabi or in the island of Bahrain. According to useconomyabout.com this rich economic bloc has an estimated population of 39 million inhabitants with an income per capita that goes from US$24.200 in Saudi Arabia up to $179.000 in Qatar!

Photo by netcarshow.com

Maserati Kubang. Photo by netcarshow.com

Those numbers, along with their will to educate their people in order to expand their position in the world, have made of this region an important pole for all kind of investments. Car manufacturers have realized the importance of being there, specially after analyzing this particular market. The GCC is world’s largest market for SUV in terms of market share. All kind of SUVs count for 34% average of market share, which is higher than the historical SUV market, America, with 30%. Arabs don’t have any problem with gas prices, while their roads are big enough to allow the largest SUV to go around. That’s why it is not hard to hear that best selling car is the Toyota Land Cruiser, or to see lots of Nissan Patrol, Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition. Just in Qatar, 18% of total sales during 2011, corresponds to large SUV (F 4X4 segment)! On the other hand, small cars are really difficult to see as they count only 0.5% of total market.

 In this context SUV makers as Jeep must find an important place. Jeep’s portfolio offers models from C to E SUV segments and fit perfectly the needs of people desiring big and powerful offroads. In 2011 the brand, along with the Dodge Durango had an average market share of only 2.1%, very far from the absolute king, Toyota. Unfortunatelly, the brand is not well known in these countries and the competition with GM and Toyota makes things even more difficult. Anyway, taking into account the image Jeep has, its background making real SUVs, and the latest products such as the unique Grand Cherokee or the classical Wrangler, it is perfectly possible to reach bigger numbers. In fact personal forecasts take to 55.000 units of Jeep by the year 2016, after repositionating the brand and offering even larger and more luxury products than the Grand Cherokee. Ofcourse, that goal does not include the great welcome extra luxury SUVs from Maserati would have during the coming years, another brand to develop in this reach region.