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Old 2nd September 2010, 10:35   #2701
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Fiat's latest numbers for Aug are out. A whooping 1824 cars sold. That inspite of practically every other carmaker reporting all-time high numbers. Fiat holding steady when everyone else is going up is essentially Fiat going down. And personally, I don't see this changing anytime soon. Fiat's target of 40k cars per annum is a distant dream and it's target of gaining mkt share through a low-cost car in 2012 quite a while away.

Why am I posting this here and not in the "Indian Car Scene"? Because I wanted to relate my experience while thinking of purchasing a Punto.

I decided I had to purchase a car in January this year. I had never heard of Punto until then. But, I decided that I might look at Indica for its VFM tag. Went to the nearest Tata showroom and one look at a blazing red Punto and everything else went out of my mind. Got busy for a while and postponed the car purchasing decision for a while. But all this time the only car that was in consideration was a Punto. Come April and decided now's the time. Called up the Fiat guys to book a test-drive. Promised one 3 days later. 3rd day and no surprises, I got no call. Called them up again. They gave some excuses and promised me a test-drive the next day. The next day, again no surprises, came & went without a test-drive. After that I called up 3 other showrooms - Powai, Jogeshwari & Mulund. 15 days later I still didn't have a test-drive. I was mighty pissed. But Punto had touched a chord somewhere deep inside and decided to hold on inspite of the response. Called up the central hotline number. They promised me a test drive 2 days later from the Nerul showroom. Nothing happened for 3 days. By now, I was past the point where I could be patient anymore. 2 days post this, I get a call from the central hotline number asking about my decision to purchase. I didn't know whether to get angry or pity the company . Decided against either, wished them "Best of Luck" and cut the call.

Compare this with my Ford & Maruti experience. One phone call and Figo & Ritz were at my doorsteps with no hurry from the sales reps to hurry up the test drive. Very-very professional.

At the end, decided against either but for varied reasons. Figo just didn't excite and if I'm putting down 6L+, there should be a feel-good factor. And with Ritz, when I stepped inside, the first thought that came was: Well, here's another Maruti. Just no excitement as one steps in.

At the end, I did manage the Punto test drive (a car with it's odo removed - by then I probably had already given up on the Punto!) but the whole experience + short 1st & 2nd gears + really dull interiors (not helped by the fact that the car that I test drove was dirty) + all the reviews about bad A.S.S. + A 6.5L price point just didn't make it worth it.

Got a used car in the end because just couldn't find a perfect car. Fiat could have been it, but sadly came out a distant last.

I know there's nothing new in my experience and countless others have faced it but with the latest nos coming in, just thought I'd share why their nos aren't rising.
My experience has been right opposite. I registered for a test drive of the 90 HP on their website and got a call the very next day from the dealer. A few hours later the car was at my office!
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Old 3rd September 2010, 10:13   #2702
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Pulling left is not a design flaw of the Punto, though there are a few reports here, it's usually just a wheel alignment issue.
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I have advised him to go to the dealer right away and get it rectified.
How serious is this? I didn't feel any significant "pull to the left" over my 500+ kms drive, and on multiple customer Puntos I've driven after.

Is this a slight pull? If then, don't bother. A little known fact is that all Mercedes' sold in India pull slightly to the left. Why? I don't know. Hasn't bothered me in 70,000 kms of driving my C220.

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Originally Posted by manishk83 View Post
Fiat's latest numbers for Aug are out. A whooping 1824 cars sold. That inspite of practically every other carmaker reporting all-time high numbers. Fiat holding steady when everyone else is going up is essentially Fiat going down. And personally, I don't see this changing anytime soon. Fiat's target of 40k cars per annum is a distant dream and it's target of gaining mkt share through a low-cost car in 2012 quite a while away.

Why am I posting this here and not in the "Indian Car Scene"? Because I wanted to relate my experience while thinking of purchasing a Punto.
Based on experiences posted on the forum, I am inclined to think that Tata-Fiat showrooms push Tata cars over that of Fiat. Of course, that's not to say that the Punto is the perfect product for everyone. It's a premium hatch with not-so-premium interiors / fit / finish and many reported niggles. The B segment is receiving new entrants by the month. Competition is very fierce.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 10:21   #2703
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Personally by checking out the new 90HP punto, I felt the interior quality has gone up a notch, though not yet matching i20 levels. What bothers is the fact that the look of the plastics is not that good. Its gives a low quality look.

FIAT will forever remain a fringe player in India, whether TATA promotes FIAT cars or not. FIAT just doesn't appeal to everyone.

Last edited by krish3 : 3rd September 2010 at 10:23.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 12:01   #2704
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Based on experiences posted on the forum, I am inclined to think that Tata-Fiat showrooms push Tata cars over that of Fiat.
I think it depends on the showroom. When my brother and I were looking for Linea/Punto, the dealers we visited (Concorde in Cochin and Hyson in Thrissur) did not try to push us towards Tata cars. It could also be because we went to the showroom asking for Linea/Punto. I don't know if their approach would've been different if we had asked for cars in Rs.X lakhs to Rs.Y lakhs.

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Of course, that's not to say that the Punto is the perfect product for everyone. It's a premium hatch with not-so-premium interiors / fit / finish and many reported niggles. The B segment is receiving new entrants by the month. Competition is very fierce.
I'm not sure if the August sales figures for Fiat are lower because of Punto or Linea (or both). It could very well be a result of the Vento effect on Linea. Punto was selling at around 1000-1200 levels (nothing great) before Figo/Polo/Micra entered the market. I think it has atleast managed to hold on the those numbers inspite of the new arrivals. That's a slight positive.

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Personally by checking out the new 90HP punto, I felt the interior quality has gone up a notch, though not yet matching i20 levels. What bothers is the fact that the look of the plastics is not that good. Its gives a low quality look.
I agree. I have felt that the black plastic parts on the dashboard/doors look and feel OK, but the grey parts look cheap.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 12:10   #2705
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Personally by checking out the new 90HP punto, I felt the interior quality has gone up a notch, though not yet matching i20 levels. What bothers is the fact that the look of the plastics is not that good. Its gives a low quality look.
Quite interesting. I took back to back test drive of Punto 76hp diesel and i20 90hp diesel. I found none of them so special that we pay such a huge amount to them. i20's terrible turbo lag, especially in the second gear is very annoying.

I checked, for instance, the steering height adjuster in both Punto and i20, and I felt it was very fragile in both these cars. In my opinion, none of them is worth paying so much of a premium. Yes, CRDi was a little more relaxed, and was a little more refined than the MJD.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 12:20   #2706
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I was at Joshi Autozone, Chandigarh a month back, looking at Punto/Linea and then I asked about Manza just because it was there. I wasn't interested in Manza at all (I was looking for a hatchback with Linea the only exception). The sales manager said that Manza is a good budget option for Linea and did not bother to talk of it further.

Same was the case with every other dealership I visited. No Sales Manager promoted Vista/Manza and discouraged Punto/Linea.

This strengthened my trust in TATA and FIAT.

As far as the Fiat sales are concerned, Fiat is not smartly promoting their products.

In the new Punto Ad, where the owner catches a car thief and takes him for a drive and then calls the police station, they show him using a cell phone. This is not what Blue&Me is meant for. Instead they should have highlighted how the car "talks" to the owner in her good female voice and he uses voice dialling to call the police station.

Also, Punto brochure lacks some 7-8 features that can be highlighted. e.g. rear AC vents, Programmable speed beep, speed sensitive front intermittent wipers, Theater dimming map/spot lamps, All 4 power windows auto down with driver side auto up etc. These are present in Linea brochure but why are they absent in Punto brochure. This gives an impression that they are absent in Punto.

First thing a person does today is to download the brochure from company website. Why not make a good first impression.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 12:44   #2707
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Good point Paddleshifter. They have missed to promote a lot of these simple features for the Punto. But how much of a difference it makes to the sales figures is questionable.

About the ad-: They could have used a better theme to show all the features of the car, instead of showing that a thief can't break-in like in a maruti.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 14:19   #2708
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Good point Paddleshifter. They have missed to promote a lot of these simple features for the Punto. But how much of a difference it makes to the sales figures is questionable.

About the ad-: They could have used a better theme to show all the features of the car, instead of showing that a thief can't break-in like in a maruti.
Agreed Krish. These features are not unique and are simple but these simple features when combined together give better impression that the car is loaded with features. They should not create a big difference in the sales but when someone initially compares two cars based on the information given in the brochure, more features definitely create better interest.

A simple proof are the comments(Holy Cow!, Mamma Mia! etc; see page 178, 179 for some of these) of all those Punto owners after they "discovered" rear AC vents in their Puntos.

And these simple features make a lot of difference in everyday convenience.

e.g. Auto up/down. I wish I had auto up in all the windows or at least the front passenger window as well.

Last edited by PaddleShifter : 3rd September 2010 at 14:24.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 14:31   #2709
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Agreed Krish. These features are not unique and are simple but these simple features when combined together give better impression that the car is loaded with features. They should not create a big difference in the sales but when someone initially compares two cars based on the information given in the brochure, more features definitely create better interest.

A simple proof are the comments(Holy Cow!, Mamma Mia! etc; see page 178, 179 for some of these) of all those Punto owners after they "discovered" rear AC vents in their Puntos.

And these simple features make a lot of difference in everyday convenience.

e.g. Auto up/down. I wish I had auto up in all the windows or at least the front passenger window as well.
On a different note, maybe it's good that all features are not highlighted. It allows us FIAT lovers to be wowed at regular intervals!
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Old 3rd September 2010, 15:35   #2710
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** Kindly bear with me, this post is mainly OT, but one that is related to Punto numbers, something that's sprung up recently in this test-drive thread.**

I'll wait for the model-wise break-up of the sales figures for August before making any definitive comments about the lower numbers clocked.
If I had to hazard a guess, out of the 1800 units sold, I'd say that the Linea would have clocked 750 units and the rest would be Punto sales.

I'd attribute it(lower numbers of the Linea) to the launch of the Vento. The Linea has been a steady seller for Fiat (N.B. I said steady, not market busting bestseller), and it is only now that there is an alternative in the Vento in its diesel avatar. Since test-drives for the Vento have still not picked up, people must be waiting and watching before committing to a purchase (of either one).

I have another pet theory - like most such theories, this has a high probability of being incorrect - that the lower numbers are also due to some religious and geographic reasons. If you think that's a mad enough theory, read the lines below:

a. Fiat owners - or would be owners - are usually from a city where cars are more of a passion , than merely a tool of commute from Point A to B or a materialistic showpiece. Without getting into a discussion of which cities fit the bill, I'd just say that Bangalore, Bombay, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad definitely do. Predominantly it's about the culture, of motorsports, car industries etc. A counter example would be my city - Calcutta - who's contribution to the Indian car industry is being the capital of the state that gave us the Ambassador and a tyre factory that been closed more often than it's been open (Dunlop).
It shouldn't be a surprise, then, to see very few Fiats in Calcutta. You'll see quite a few Lineas, but Punto's are few and far between.

b. I read in one of the threads that the month of August had some days (or was the whole month so?) considered to be inauspicious down south. As much as we'd like to say that for us car enthusiasts, it doesn't matter, it does for our loved ones. Hence, it also affects our purchases.
If that is the case, then the difference in numbers from the previous month are immediately accounted for.

With that theory out of the way, I'd like to comment on what can make a difference for their sales overall.

a. Announce to the public that the Tata-Fiat partnership is here to stay. I have had many members complain about Tata A.S.S. being the reason for Fiat's continued bad reputation, and all I'd have to say to that is that Tata is the reason that Fiat is still selling a few cars. The number of dealerships is already at a reasonable number (170 odd, up from 31 in 2006), with increased visibility and the slow but painful process of brand rebuilding on track, Fiat has a chance.

b. Launch a version of the Punto with beige interiors as an option (the same as Linea, hence shouldn't cost them an arm and a leg). I hate beige, but many love it. It'll also make the interiors seem brighter.

c. Use visibility as a marketing tool. Places like shopping malls are mushrooming all over India, without renting floorspace inside (which'll be expensive), park the cars outside strategically, with good lighting. Lighting as I want them to do this during the evenings. To cite an example, a dealership usually has 4 versions of the Punto for test drives (1.3VGT, 1.3FGT, 1.4 Petrol, 1.2 Petrol), each in top trim levels. So, they can park any one or two of these during the evening (say from 7 - 10) at these malls. Which one goes to the display depends on whether test drives are lined up in the evening, for any particular versions or not.
This needs to be thought through more, and needs committed dealerships, but Concorde can be the one to start it.

d. In a market where product differentiation is becoming harder, service will make a difference. I'd say, start 24 hour service stations, and start with the major cities (listed earlier). This is not my idea, it's been around for ages, but just not been implemented well enough. With Tata's service reach, Fiat has it easier than some of the other players (e.g. VW). Some details can be:
  • Pick up at night, early morning delivery. So a person can come back from office, and the next day can use the car again.
  • With this kind of pick up and delivery, the traffic conditions inside the city will be a lot kinder, meaning that the driver taking the car back has lower chances of catching nicks and dents along the way.
  • Charge Rs200 for this service. Give 50% to the mechanic doing the basic service (oil change etc.), 20 percent to the Service Manager present. Just make it a requirement that the owner has to have enough fuel for a trip to and fro from the dealership. Basically, if a mechanic services 3 cars a night, that's a tidy packet for him over and above his salary. So that should be an incentive to do night shifts. Of course, there would be a rotation policy.
I'd heard that Carnation was offering (or planning to offer) such a service, if they can, I don't see why an automaker can't.
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Old 3rd September 2010, 23:06   #2711
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Default Not at all OT Amartya It is deeply studied and thoughtful post!!!!!

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** Kindly bear with me, this post is mainly OT, but one that is related to Punto numbers, something that's sprung up recently in this test-drive thread.**
Very nice and deeply studied post. Hope FIAT is reading this and will act on correct and simple suggestions made by you. There are millions of FIAT fans like you in India. And only because of them FIAT cars are selling.
I am also dreaming by 2015 FIAT will have 25% market share in India and by 2020 it will reach 50%. That will be the golden years to come when every alternate car will be FIAT!! Wow!!
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Old 4th September 2010, 00:00   #2712
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Very nice and deeply studied post. Hope FIAT is reading this and will act on correct and simple suggestions made by you. There are millions of FIAT fans like you in India. And only because of them FIAT cars are selling.
A million FIAT fans in India ...err...shouldn't that show up in the sales figures for FIAT ? Maybe you meant a million 'fence sitters', wishing the A.S.S improves a wee bit more and then they would pounce on the Linea/Punto. Look at the irony, the way FIAT is approaching this, the A.S.S isn't likely to improve unless there is a critical mass (read as significant number of FIAT cars) out on the roads, and that's not happening thanks to the 'fence-sitters' who are waiting for things to improve in the first place.

OT, has anyone bought the FIAT original central locking for Punto 'Active' ? The item was launched as part of their accessory shop but hasn't quite showed up at the dealership. It been a month since I placed order for it at RAMA, ..." the order is with FIAT and it has been shipped but hasn't reached us yet ..Sirr !".
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Old 4th September 2010, 04:05   #2713
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Very nice and deeply studied post. Hope FIAT is reading this and will act on correct and simple suggestions made by you. There are millions of FIAT fans like you in India. And only because of them FIAT cars are selling.
I am also dreaming by 2015 FIAT will have 25% market share in India and by 2020 it will reach 50%. That will be the golden years to come when every alternate car will be FIAT!! Wow!!
Thanks for your kind words, appreciate it.
While I do like Fiat cars, I am not a die hard fan; I want them to do well simply because they didn't pack up their bags and go home when the going was tough and instead launched some of the best cars (in their segment) in India. They have a very steep climb ahead of them, but I wish them well.

On a lighter note, I wouldn't like Fiat to have 50% market share, that's too much .

Last edited by Amartya : 4th September 2010 at 04:09.
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Old 4th September 2010, 08:12   #2714
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On a lighter note, I wouldn't like Fiat to have 50% market share, that's too much .
50% market share in India would certainly make FIAT as: Fabbrica Indian Automobili TRanjangaon (Of course T silent)
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Old 4th September 2010, 09:36   #2715
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All Punto's in general do not have the tendency to pull to left. None of the cars i have driven till date had this issue. The reason behind this can be difference in tire pressure or alignment issues.
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