Italian auto major Fiat on Tuesday said it would start setting up an independent sales and service network in India across the top 20 cities by 2015, in an exercise expected to pull the company out of a rut. The auto maker also rolled out new, upgraded versions of its existing Linea and Punto models.
Fiat currently operates in a 50-50 joint venture with homegrown Tata Motors and all its 167 dealerships in the country are shared with it. The firm would start with 22 dedicated showrooms this year that will go up to 45 by 2014 and 67 by 2015.
“The customer profile for Fiat and Tata is different and from the feedback that we have received, there was a demand for standalone Fiat network,” said Ravi Bhatia, vice-president commercial, Fiat India. “These showrooms would replace the shared ones in these cities and we are only looking at the top 20 cities for now.”
Despite sharing synergies like joint production and component sourcing with Tata, Fiat has not been able to grow significantly in India. Its sales have slipped by 28.7% so far in this fiscal year on the back of a 15% drop in 2010-11. The firm also launched two new versions of its existing products— Punto and Linea, with added features like upgraded air conditioning kits and better ground clearance. The new Punto is priced at R4.8 lakh and R6.7 lakh (ex showroom Delhi) while the Linea retails for Rs 6.8-9.2 lakh.
“We have set up two Fiat Cafes, one each in Delhi and Pune, and will open more across India depending on the consumers' response,” said Rajeev Kapoor, president and CEO, Fiat India Automobiles.