Fiat – Fast, Yet Slow

Share Our Knowledge With Your Friends, Contacts And Co-Workers

Fiat’s re-entry into the Chinese car market seems startling on paper, in just a three year period they have developed a new partnership with Guangzhou Auto, built their own ‘World Class Manufacturing facility’ in Changsha, developed a car specifically for the Chinese market and built and expanded their dealership network to 134 dealers with the ultimate goal of 200 by the years end

The Nanjing-Fiat joint venture expired almost naturally, Nanjing was disinterested in the JV owing to the lack of investment by Fiat, and Fiat grew disinterested owing to the lack of enthusiasm for building ‘Developing World’ products in the Chinese market when it was moving out of a developing world market.

The new joint venture is full of promise; new leadership has been brought in such as GAC Fiat’s most recent appointment of British national John Burton to run the American-Chinese-Italian joint venture. John brings a new level of enthusiasm and experience to the young partnership, he has worked with some of the biggest names in the auto industry starting off with Austin-Rover and moving up the ladder to senior positions at GM internationally and then across to Fiat Chrysler.

John sat down with us at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show to explain where GAC Fiat is going in these tentative early days. Chinese production of Jeep seems to be the hot topic, especially as the deceivingly handsome Cherokee was launched just a few hours previously on the stand across from Fiat, but what of other brands such as Chrysler and the creation of a GAC-Fiat sub brand? Jeep production in China is a foregone conclusion with John pointing out that the paint shop in Changsha has already been given considerable updates prior to any future Jeep model being sent down Chinese production lines.

Jeeps, and compact SUV’s in particular, are a hot commodity in the Chinese market with it the fastest growing segment to date – but it seems that Chrysler is getting the cold shoulder. Will Chrysler be produced in China? John says never say never. The handsome 300C is already on the market in China but as an import it is overly expensive against other luxury models such as the 3-Series and also the 5-Series. John says the same for any potential sub brand coming from the GAC-Fiat joint venture, whilst other manufacturers including GM, PSA and Honda etc have rushed to announce the creation or have already got sub brand cars on the road Fiat doesn’t seem ready to commit to yet another pre-production brand, all eyes are on Fiat and Jeep.

The Viaggio, as a sister car to the Dodge Dart, brings a little slice of Italian life to the Chinese market. Some engineering changes were made to the car for China, independent rear suspension has been nixed in favor of a torsion bar to lower costs and also a sole 1.4T engine which Michael Manley (Asia Pacific President for Fiat Chrysler) believes Chinese customers prefer to larger 2.0L and 2.4L engines offered in the Dart. Viaggio sales seem slow to start with owing to the restricted dealership network that currently stands at 134 dealerships but will be extended to 200 dealerships by the years end, the car also seems incredibly competitive against rivals such as the VW Sagitar 1.4T which starts at 120,000RMB whereas the Fiat is just over 100,000RMB, a bargain for those who live within a reasonable distance of a Fiat dealership.

Expanding the dealership network and improving Fiat’s marketing within China is key to improving sales, an issue which is acknowledged by John himself, however with a new car coming each year to the Fiat brand, Fiat are well placed to improve market share in China – when you start at nothing the only way is up.

About the author  ⁄ FrankF

Frank entered the automotive industry via his father's instructions. He grew up with cars around him, especially as his father was a major auto restorer, Frank's childhood was spent passing beers, tools and coffee to his father whilst he explained the ins and outs of engines. Frank now works in the Chinese car industry at a specific manufacturer.

No Comments

Leave a Comment

See News by Industry
Industry News China Green Auto News Spy Shots China Auto Culture
See News By Brand
Acura China Acura China Aston Martin China Aston Martin Audi China,FAW-Audi Audi China
Baojun Auto Baojun Beijing Auto Beijing Auto Group Beijing Auto Beijing Auto
Besturn Auto, FAW Besturn Besturn BMW China BMW China Brilliance Auto Brilliance Auto
Buick China Buick China Baojun Auto BYD Baojun Auto Cadillac
Changa,Chang'an Chang'an - Chana Changfeng Changfeng Changhe Auto Changhe
Chery Auto Chery Chevrolet China Chevrolet Chevrolet China Chrysler
Citroen China Citroen Dodge China Dodge Dodge China Citroen DS
Dongfeng Auto Dongfeng Geely Emgrand Emgrand Geely Emgrand Englon
FAW,First Automobile Works FAW Ferrari China Ferrari Fiat China Fiat
Foday Auto Foday Ford China,Changan-Ford Ford Guangzhou Auto Guangzhou Auto
Geely Auto Geely Geely Auto Gleagle GoNow Auto GoNow
Great Wall Great Wall Hafei Auto Hafei Haima Haima
Hawtai Hawtai Honda Honda Huanghai Yellow Sea Auto Huanghai (Yellow Sea)
Hyundai China Hyundai Infiniti China Infiniti JAC China JAC
Jaguar Jaguar Jinbei Jinbei JMC JMC
Kia Kia     Jaguar Land Rover
Landwind Landwind Lexus China Lexus Lifan Auto Lifan
Lincoln Lincoln Youngman Lotus Youngman Lotus Luxgen Luxgen
Mazda Mazda Mercedes China Mercedes MG - Morris Garages MG
MINI China MINI Mitsubishi China Mitsubishi Nissan China Nissan
Opel China Opel Opel China Peugeot Reely China Reely
Renault Riich Riich Riich Roewe
Rolls-Royce China Rolls-Royce SEAT SEAT Senova Senova/ShenBao
Double Ring Double Ring - Shuang Huan Sichuan Yema Sichuan Yema Skoda Skoda
Double Ring Smart Subaru Subaru Suzuki Suzuki
Toyota Toyota Volvo Volvo Volkswagen Volkswagen
Zotye Zotye   Others    
Close
Sign up today to receive China Car Times weekly newsletter!
Your name
Your email