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Old 20th December 2007, 08:41   #1
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Thumbs up Fiat to launch 7 new cars in next 24 months

Source : ET 12/20/2007
Author : Adil Jal Darukhanawala

FIAT is getting ready to fire on all cylinders. Exactly a decade after it was set up, the Ranjangaon plant near Pune is finally humming with activity, as the Italian car major pushes through a major expansion programme, which should set the stage for a decisive comeback.

Over the 24 months, Fiat will roll out seven new cars from its global portfolio, including its European best seller, the two-door Cinquecento, the Linea saloon and even the world’s best known sports car, Ferrari. It is bringing in the modern multijet engine technology to Ranjangaon to power most of its new launches. Fiat is expected to go on a massive hiring spree with a five-fold increase in headcount expected in less than one year. And finally, it is revamping its sales and service network, which proved to be its Achilles heel in the past.

While presently the Ranjangaon plant makes two versions of the Palio (Fiat’s erstwhile Project 178 World Car), come February 2008 a third version will be added. Powered by the highly acclaimed 1.3 Multijet engine which also does duty in the award winning Suzuki Swift DDiS model, the new Palio will kick off Fiat’s new model onslaught. With a price tag of around Rs 4.5 lakh, this car is expected be the volume model in the interim for Fiat in India, before it gets an all-new Palio based on the previous generation Punto floorpan sometime in 2009.

Fiat’s Ranjangaon unit is home to the ultra-modern manufacturing unit for the 1.3-litre Multijet and the new five-speed transmission (which is also making its debut on the new Palio) and this drivetrain will be gradually localised to the extent of about 70% by the time the project hits its peak manufacturing capacity of 200,000 units per annum. The engine and transmission unit will be commissioned by April 2008 with local production to commence a month later. Early engine and gearbox packs will be imported, not just for the Palio but also for Tata Motors’ Indica evolution, code-named the X1, which is tentatively scheduled for a March 2008 release.

But Fiat has sprung a huge surprise by opting to take the CBU (completely built units) route with even small evocative hatchbacks. So far, no one has dared to adopt such a radical approach to brand building and it perhaps drives home the point that Fiat will be launching its distinctive neoretro design – the Cinquecento in May, followed a couple of months later by the Bravo.

The iconic two-door Cinquecento, to be priced around Rs 10-12 lakh, is without doubt one of the most distinctive cars of 2007 and while it will certainly not be cheap, it is at least indicative of Fiat’s desire to focus on a youthful approach and also return back to its roots with strong design and engineering. The classically styled five-door Bravo, expected to be around Rs 14-15 lakh, will follow in the same vein.

Come September 2008 and it will be launch time for the made-in-Ranjangaon Linea saloon. This elegant saloon with tenuous dynamic lines will be available in both petrol and diesel propulsion (the latter being a more powerful adaptation of the 1.3 Multijet) and Fiat has high hopes for this Corolla – Civic rival. Fiat officials are highly optimistic of this car taking the fight to the established class runners and trumping them. A very competitive price tag – in the region of Rs 9.5 to 10 lakh — is just one of the major attributes the company has penciled in for the Linea.

The Grande Punto which was expected to be launched first has been strategically deployed for a mid-2009 launch schedule. With a price tag of around Rs 5 lakh, this European Car of the Year should boost its maker’s presence in the top end hot hatch category at about the same time that Japanese biggies Honda and Toyota are aiming to launch their large hatchbacks onto Indian roads.

While the Alfa Romeo CBU programme is currently being given the once over, the even more exciting news is the early homework being done to usher in the world’s most poignant sports car brand – Ferrari. In fact, Ferrari could be opening its first dealerships in the country as early as the last quarter of 2008 and prior to this it will be doing a spectacular Pan-India drive of the type it executed in China a year ago. In fact, the complete range of Fiat cars for India plus also selected Alfa Romeo models would be showcased at Auto Expo in New Delhi next month.

The entire Fiat India range would be sold through selected cobranded dealerships with its Indian partner Tata Motors. The present dealership strength stands at 65 but by the end of 2008 this will be bumped up, to 100 dealerships or more.

IN QUEUE
Nov–Dec ’08: ALFA ROMEO CBU launch
Nov–Dec ’08: FERRARI pre-launch activities
Mid ’09: GRANDE PUNTO Produced at Ranjangaon
Early ’10: NEXT GEN PALIO produced at Ranjangaon

ON A ROLL
Feb ’08: PALIO 1.3 Multijet produced at Ranjangaon
April ’08: CINQUECENTO CBU from Italy
July ’08: BRAVA CBU from Italy
Sept ’08: LINEA produced at Ranjangaon
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Old 20th December 2007, 08:57   #2
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CBU hatches? What are they smoking? So the only practical launches of interest are the 1.3 Palio and the Linea.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:05   #3
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CBU hatches? What are they smoking?
It must be something pretty exotic 10-12L for a Cinquecento?

I'm rolling on the floor with mirth. And this is coming from a FIAT lover.

The Palio 1.3 is good news though. But let's see how many will actually sell, as against the Indicas with the same engine. I doubt if the TATA salesmen will push the Palio.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:08   #4
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Aaaha that means dont have to wait for GP this year.Are you sure about BRAVO and CINQUECENTO this year?
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:18   #5
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Thumbs up what a news ! palio 1.3 multijet.

At this time when I am planning to upgrade from a used Santro to a new car and while my brain and my heart keeps on pulling me towards palio and my wallet towards a more practical city car,say WagonR, the news of Palio 1.3 Lt multijet is adding to the tussle. But I can hear a distant voice at the back of my mind " go for palio...go for palio.....go for palio"

WagonR is indeed a very good car if city-highway ratio is 80-20 like me. BUT ! where else would you get a "TANK" @ 5 Lakh?
So be it ! I am applying for the "Palio Club" here on TBHP, 1.3 or 1.1.
Amen !
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:33   #6
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Originally Posted by hydrashok View Post
It must be something pretty exotic 10-12L for a Cinquecento?

I'm rolling on the floor with mirth. And this is coming from a FIAT lover.

The Palio 1.3 is good news though. But let's see how many will actually sell, as against the Indicas with the same engine. I doubt if the TATA salesmen will push the Palio.
Well ive already decided to buy
so they are selling one on ethe first day of the launch!
its rumored to be 4.5Lacks as the above writeup from the economic times says
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:38   #7
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Originally Posted by hydrashok View Post
The Palio 1.3 is good news though. But let's see how many will actually sell, as against the Indicas with the same engine. I doubt if the TATA salesmen will push the Palio.
They seemed OK to me in Bangalore. Manipal motors (TATA) called me up last month, offered me a free checkup and wash, even gave a free gift. They had a strategically positioned red 1.6 sport there and were also pitching a nice sales talk to the admirers around.

I am very happy with the service in last 2 years or so since TATA took over.
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Old 20th December 2007, 10:40   #8
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All looks crap, except the 1.3 diesel Palio.
This time I am sure they are sniffing something better than Burmese drugs else they wouldnt have thought of a Cinquecento at 12 lakhs.
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:04   #9
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It looks like 1.9 mjd is not going to make an appearance, Linea would have been a perfect candidate.

Well at least we are going to get the 1.3 in Palio cheers: and looks like the initial batches of the vehicles are going to have imported gearboxes...

Lets hope FIAT/TATA get their marketing in order for these releases.
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:08   #10
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Punto in 2009! Time for new Grande Punto in Italy. Looks like India is still a candidate for "hand me down". All that marketing tie up with Tata seems to be going haywire, hugely in Tata's favour.

I was pinning my hopes on Punto and Fabia to choose my next car. Looks like I will have to think about something else.

Linea at 9-10 lakh is again too much. I really doubt if someone pays so much for Fiat.

Bravo for 12-14 lakh is outrageous. I feel there might be some buyers for 500. (a very few though). Rest should end up as collector's items in Fiat's technicolour museum.

The only reasonable launch seems to be the Palio 1.3 JTD.
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:09   #11
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Originally Posted by dipen View Post
All looks crap, except the 1.3 diesel Palio.
Well not really!
Grande Punto is next big thing, along with Linea.
Palio is a passé (with due respect).

Last edited by scorp 1 : 20th December 2007 at 11:14.
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:10   #12
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Economic Times (TOI group) is known to speculate, so I am taking this news report with loads of salt!

The only practical launches seems to be Palio 1.3 JTD, Linea and G Punto!
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:15   #13
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Default gp?? next year??

is that confirmed??
i mean..of course its a great car and all that but mid-next year??
who is ready to wait for so long??
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:25   #14
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Palio 1.3 MJD is the only one which looks practical. Rest is all hoopla. But atleast Fiat is making attempts to be visible.
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Old 20th December 2007, 11:39   #15
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Originally Posted by deepakhon View Post
Linea at 9-10 lakh is again too much. I really doubt if someone pays so much for Fiat.
may I know why not?? Fiat is one of the most prestigious companies in Europe and has won the coveted Eurpean car of the year award more than any other company. Then what is wrong with Fiat for which somebody wont pay 9-10 lacs?
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