TURIN - Fiat Auto SpA is happy with the effects of the Italian scrapping incentive. A surge in Italian sales more than balanced a decline from last year's record levels in the rest of Europe.
'In the first four months of 1997 we were second in Europe, with a 12.7 percent market share,' said Loic Caperan, Fiat Auto sales and marketing director. Fiat was in fifth place in 1996.
The Italian market was up 24 percent in the first four months. And 'outside Italy we are not far from the record levels of 1996,' he added.
Last year Fiat Auto had a 6.1 percent market share in Europe, excluding Italy. That was an all-time record. 'In the first four months of 1996, our European sales outside of Italy were really strong,' said Caperan. 'Our market share then was 6.3 percent. Now we are at 5.7 percent. This is reasonable considering the end of the incentives in France, where our sales of mini cars were really strong. And booming demand in Italy is making our small-cars export stock very tight.'
Caperan refused to give details about capacity utilization in Italian plants, but said output was higher than in 1996. He said Brazilian and Polish plants are producing at full speed.
Production of the Siena - the sedan version of the Palio world car - is 'ramping up very quickly in our new plant in Argentina, and we are also starting production in Poland. In Brazil we sell as many Palios as we produce, now over 1,500 a day,' he said.
Output of the Cinquecento, in its last full year of production, will come close to 300,000 units - another record. The Punto, in its fourth year, could beat its 1995 record of 666,705 units, said Caperan.