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Old 2nd July 2009, 19:32   #1
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Thumbs up An Impromptu Interview with Mr. Rajeev Kapoor, CEO, Fiat India

Last Sat, when I was in Chennai, I tagged along with my friend Arun who wanted to book a Grande Punto. He wanted me to drive the car and pass on the feedback.

We went to the TAFE Access showroom in Mount Road (front of LIC building). We then noticed that Rajeev Kapoor was talking to the officials in the dealership.

We barged in and had a 10 minute conversation with him. A rough transcript of what transpired:

We: Good evening! Nice to see you here. We are here to check out Punto and get one!
RK: Good to see you guys coming and checking out Fiat cars! Hope to welcome you to Fiat family.

We:
We are members of Team-BHP - Do you know this forum?
RK: Of course! I know. It is forum of enthusiasts. Also, I like the travel sections. Whenever I want to go from one city to another, I always looks up this section of team-bhp. Some one or another would have made that trip!

We
: Nice to know that you've heard about team-bhp. Did you drop by to this showroom by chance?
RK: No - I am making a tour of various cities in India to check out the showrooms and feel the response for Fiat cars. What is your feedback?

We: That's nice to hear! We felt that the rear is cramped - Did you receive this feed back elsewhere?
RK: I have heard that but, you have to know that the wheelbase of the car is almost that of Linea. (He then pointed to space below the dash) - People can extend their legs inside - But, people don't realize it and push their seats backwards. This makes it appear that the rear is cramped. Otherwise, the space is quite decent for the car for this segment.

We: Why didn't you put the VGT in Punto?
RK: Indian market is a different game. People place high importance on Fuel Efficiency. Except for a few enthusiasts, people are happy with good mileage and decent power. People say they need more power. But, if we give more power, they say mileage is low! We can't change the laws of Physics. For e.g., the 1.6 Fiat Palio sells very less - Only enthusiasts like you guys may buy it.

We: But can we expect VGT in the future?
RK: Yes, of course! The car (Punto) has just been launched. Let's see how it goes for the next 6-7 months and variants will come!

We: How about 1.6 MJD for Punto or Linea?
RK: You see, 1.6 MJD is not a 'Fiat Preferred' engine. So, I don't see it coming soon.

We: One of our team members posted a photo of the Bravo that you drive? Is it coming anytime soon? Does that have the 1.9 MJD?
RK: Bravo is a very good vehicle - It does have the 1.9 MJD. I even got the Bravo homologated. But I don't think our market is ready for it. You may not see it sometime soon.

We: Whenever people talk about Fiat, they talk about unavailability of spares and expensive spares and service
RK: We've worked a lot on that. I agree that there have been problems acquiring parts for Palio, Uno, Petra etc. Even now, I make calls throughout the world to get the spares wherever these cars are manufactured. But, we have worked on this thoroughly for the new cars - Linea and Punto. There are have been spare parts from Day 1. And, the spare are very competitively priced. You should compare the prices and see! And, the perception can't be changed overnight. People should buy cars, experience good service, spread the word - That's where I need help from you guys!

What do you think about this dealership? How was your experience?

We: This dealership is generally good, but people should learn more about the cars, and technologies like Blue and Me.

RK: I agree - This time, we have give exhaustive training to sales people.

We: Don't you think there could be some cannibalization between Indica Vista and Punto? Aren't you worried?
RK: No! Tata and Fiat are partners. We want anyone walking into the showroom to walk out with a car - Fiat or Tata.

We: Thanks for your time! We wish Fiat all success
RK: Thanks! It was good talking to you guys..

Basically, looks like Fiat is making efforts all out to get the market! They've got a good product, priced it well and the CEO is visiting showrooms throughout the country to make sure things are good!

I wish Fiat all the good luck! Way to go!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 19:38   #2
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Quote:
We: How about 1.6 MJD for Punto or Linea?
RK: You see, 1.6 MJD is not a 'Fiat Preferred' engine. So, I don't see it coming soon.
Fiat Preferred? So, will it be the 1.9?

Kudos to you sriram for putting up the information
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Old 2nd July 2009, 19:41   #3
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Nice information and insight into Fiat's plans. Sriram.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 19:55   #4
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Thats great information you have shared here! The approach Fiat was supposed to take to get a strong position in the Indian market.

Btw, I was infact at the TAFE showroom between 11AM & 12:30PM! Too bad I dint notice the CEO there :(
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Old 2nd July 2009, 19:57   #5
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Thanks for posting this here!

Fiat has its plan in place. Its time to execute those. All the best Fiat!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:03   #6
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Nice Report. Good to know about Fiat.

But, if we give more power, they say mileage is low! We can't change the laws of Physics. Check With SRK
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:05   #7
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Mr. Kapoor seems to have set his priorities right as per the Indian market needs. I also feel that customer's perception about FIAT will change for the better once the positive owner feedback starts filtering in the market.

Best of luck - FIAT India.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:07   #8
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Thanks for sharing that information. A good long conversation.

Seems FIAT is leaving no stone unturned to impress and satisfy their customers. CEO visiting showrooms is a good sign and they are improving day by day, a dead company has come back to life because of their efforts.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:30   #9
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That seems like a company hard at work to get back their place they rightfully deserve. If punto is going to have a 1.9VGT then we are taking about the next pocket rocket
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:38   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sriramv.iyer View Post
We: Whenever people talk about Fiat, they talk about unavailability of spares and expensive spares and service
RK: We've worked a lot on that. I agree that there have been problems acquiring parts for Palio, Uno, Petra etc. Even now, I make calls throughout the world to get the spares wherever these cars are manufactured. But, we have worked on this thoroughly for the new cars - Linea and Punto. There are have been spare parts from Day 1. And, the spare are very competitively priced. You should compare the prices and see! And, the perception can't be changed overnight. People should buy cars, experience good service, spread the word - That's where I need help from you guys!
Quite nice to hear that!
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:39   #11
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Quote:
We: Why didn't you put the VGT in Punto?
RK: Indian market is a different game. People place high importance on Fuel Efficiency. Except for a few enthusiasts, people are happy with good mileage and decent power. People say they need more power. But, if we give more power, they say mileage is low! We can't change the laws of Physics. For e.g., the 1.6 Fiat Palio sells very less - Only enthusiasts like you guys may buy it.
This is actually true,the enthusiasts will always ask for more power,but how many are they in number?Maybe 1 out of 100,and to just specifically cater to those people and ignore the masses,i don't think the company would survive.
Everyone should read this quote whensoever they complain about VGT,its just not viable for fiat to bring this engine. Because if the VGT offers a lower 'fe' than swift 'ddis',its game over,no one will consider the amount of horses except the enthusiasts.


Quote:
We: That's nice to hear! We felt that the rear is cramped - Did you receive this feed back elsewhere?
RK: I have heard that but, you have to know that the wheelbase of the car is almost that of Linea. (He then pointed to space below the dash) - People can extend their legs inside - But, people don't realize it and push their seats backwards. This makes it appear that the rear is cramped. Otherwise, the space is quite decent for the car for this segment.
The rear seat travel is wwwaaaayyyy too much in the punto,and Fiat has made a critical error here,they can possibly rectify this in the next production batch and notify the car magazines.
After all perceptions are more critical than reality when it comes to marketing.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:56   #12
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Very candid interview. Good to know that they realize that brand building/rebuilding is a long-term process.
I think they should release another car next year (localised car ie. Not Bravo/500)
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:58   #13
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Thanks for sharing the information Sriram. Nice to know that Mr.Kapoor knows about our forum and likes the travel sections. Nice to know that the CEO is visiting showrooms across the country (Positive move by the company, taking stock of the post launch situation ). FIAT, we truly would love to see you on Top of the charts .
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Old 2nd July 2009, 20:58   #14
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Thanks for sharing the info Sriram ! Nice to see the CEO trying to get regular feedback. Could Mr. Rajeev be the Jagdish Khattar of Fiat?? Lets hope so. All the Best to Fiat India.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 21:24   #15
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Thanks for the information that you have shared. It gives insights on how Fiat wants to capture markets in India.

What I'm guessing is that once they have some consistent numbers every month, they might endup de-merging with TATA and get their own showrooms and service centers. Right now I guess Fiat has had a very good strategy of working with TATA and getting their products to the market.

And true as he says it, people have so much of wrong thinking about FIAT cars. Once it slowly fades away, I think Fiat will make a good player in the market.
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