More cars, fewer platforms. That is how Europe's full-line carmakers will attack the market in the future, as new platform flexibility allows them to enter new segments.
Many market sectors are at the crossroads.
Several manufacturers are poised to join the emerging small minivan and expanding mini car classes.
All of Europe's volume carmakers have new strategies for the executive-car segment, where they have suffered in recent years.
Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Peugeot and Renault have each replaced top-selling cars in 1998. Now Fiat takes center stage.
The Fiat Multipla multi-purpose vehicle goes on sale in autumn, among the first competitors for the hot-selling Renault Scenic. And next year comes the successor to the Fiat Punto, Europe's best-selling car in 1997.
Here is a rundown of new product plans.
Seicento: The new mini replaced the Cinquecento in March. The Seicento uses the same platform as its predecessor, but the exterior is changed and the interior is all new. In October electric power steering will be offered as an option.
A full replacement on a new platform will arrive in 2004.
Punto: The replacement for Fiat's best-seller will debut next July as the main event of Fiat's 100th anniversary celebration. Sales of the successor, code-named 188, will begin in October or November 1999. The new car probably won't be called Punto, but will be based on the existing platform.
The main technical modification is a simpler rear suspension, a torsion beam axle similar to that used on the Uno and the Palio. The new car will be lengthened by 80mm to 3850mm, slightly longer than the new Peugeot 206.
The 3-door and 5-door will share body components from the nose to the A-pillar only. The 3-door is said to be more radically designed.
Derivatives are under discussion. Fiat will keep the Bertone-built Punto convertible until 2001, but probably won't replace it. A small coupe to rival the GM Tigra and Ford Puma was rejected.
Palio/Siena: By year-end Fiat will launch the fourth derivative of the 178 world car family, a pickup built in Brazil and exported to western Europe to replace the Fiorino. A small van version to replace the Fiorino Furgao will arrive in late 1999 or early 2000. A Palio convertible was designed, but there are no plans to build it.
The replacement of the 178 world car family is expected in 2002-2003 with its own new platform.
Bravo/Brava: The 12-valve 1.4 -liter engine will be replaced by Fiat's 16-valve 1.2-liter FIRE engine by year-end, and there are plans to add the 1.9-liter 105hp common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel. In 2001, Fiat will launch replacements designed by Fiat's Styling Center.
Marea: The two-year-old sedan and station wagon will be replaced in 2002. Next year the range will add common-rail turbodiesels, the 1.9-liter, 105hp 4-cylinder and the 2.4-liter, 136hp 5-cylinder.
Multipla: The radical compact minivan, unveiled at the Turin show in April, will go on sale in November with a 1.6-liter 103hp gasoline engine and a 1.9-liter 105hp direct-injection turbodiesel. The base version price is expected to be around L33 million ($19,400).
The 3990mm-long car has two rows of three seats each. The Multipla is based on a new steel space frame. The flexibility of the space frame could lead to derivatives like a pickup or a three-door multipurpose vehicle.
In June, CNG and CNG-gasoline versions based on the 1.6 liter will be offered. An electric-gasoline hybrid is planned for later.
Ulysse: Fiat will replace the seven-seat minivan in 2001, using the current platform with new exterior and interior styling. The replacement will continue to be built in Valenciennes, France, by Sevel Nord, the joint venture between Fiat and PSA.
Barchetta: Work has yet to begin on a replacement for the three-year-old convertible. Development of a coupe version of the current Barchetta began in the summer of 1996, but has been halted several times and may never be produced.
Coupe: Pininfarina's styling proposal has been chosen for a new Coupe, due in late 2000. The current model was launched in 1993, with exterior design by Fiat's Styling Center and interior design and production by Pininfarina.
145/146: Alfa has frozen the design of the 145/146 replacements planned for 2001. The new car is derived from the 156 platform, carrying over front and rear suspensions.
A sporty entry-level version of the current 145, called Junior, was introduced earlier this year with a 1.4-liter 103hp engine. By mid-1999, a 1.9-liter 105hp common-rail direct injection engine will replace the 145's 1.9-liter 90hp turbodiesel.
156: A station wagon called 156 Sportwagon will be added by the end of 1999. It will be aimed at the Volvo V40.
Magneti Marelli's Selespeed, a manual gearbox that can be used in automatic mode, will be introduced on the sedan in 1999.
166: The 164 replacement, called 166, will be unveiled at the Paris auto show at the end of the month, when it also goes on sale. Prices in Italy will begin at L60 million ($35,500) for the entry-level 2.0-liter Twin Spark.
A 2.5-liter twin turbo version capable of around 270hp was developed, but Alfa has not decided whether to offer it.
Spider and GTV Coupe: Alfa revamped the Spider and GTV coupe last spring with a number of small modifications. An entry level 1.8-liter 144hp 4-cylinder engine was added. Replacements are expected in 2001.
Epsilon: The three-year-old mini will be replaced in 2002. Like the current Epsilon, it will be based on shortened Punto.
Delta: There are no plans to replace the five-year-old lower-medium car. The Delta will remain in production through at least 1999 and longer if sales justify it. Last year Lancia built just 13,676 Deltas.
Dedra: An updated Dedra was introduced early this year. The full replacement, code-named 839, is expected to debut next summer on a platform derived from the Alfa 156 with a new rear suspension.
The nose features twin circular headlights, with the outer lamps bigger, as on the Mercedes E-class. It will be launched simultaneously as a 4-door sedan and a station wagon, but there will be no four-wheel-drive version.
Kappa: The replacement, code-named 841, is expected in 2000 with radical new styling previewed by the April 1998 Dialogos concept car. The 841 will use a new platform, with a steel space frame for the upper body structure. Lancia has already approved sedan and station wagon versions. The slow-selling coupe probably won't be replaced.
The current Kappa was updated this summer with new 5-cylinder engines, side airbags and a navigation system from Bosch-Blaupunkt.
Zeta: The minivan will be replaced in 2001 with a design that differs more from its Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen stablemates.
Ka: Ford's mini will not be replaced until 2002. The Ka Touring, a four-door 'station wagon' shown as a production-ready concept car at the Turin show in April, is expected in 1999.
Fiesta: Ford's best-selling car will be replaced in 2001. The new Fiesta platform will also be used in a small utility vehicle similar to Renault's Kangoo.
Focus: The replacement for the Escort debuts next month. The five-door version will go on sale in October, followed by the three-door and station wagon in January. The Focus will be priced between DM27,000 ($16,000) and DM34,500 in Germany.
Mondeo: With the death of the Scorpio, the Mondeo will become Ford's flagship in Europe. A new, roomier Mondeo is planned for 2000. A long wheelbase version may also be offered. Ford originally planned to stretch the platform for a Scorpio replacement, then dropped the idea.
Scorpio: Ford's executive sedan went out of production this summer after years of declining sales. Ford will attack the upper end of the market with Jaguar models and Lincoln imports from the USA, the LS6 with a 3.0-liter V-6 and the LS8, with a 4.0-liter V-8.
Galaxy: The three-year-old minivan built jointly with Volkswagen is due for a major freshening within two years. Ford has not decided whether to build its next-generation seven-seat minivan with Volkswagen at their joint venture plant in Portugal.
Puma: A new Fiesta-based coupe is expected by 2002, after the current Fiesta is replaced.
MAV: The Focus-based 'multi-activity vehicle' will debut in mid-2000. It will compete in Europe's growing small minivan segment with models like the Renault Megane Scenic, Fiat Multipla and Mitsubishi Spacestar.
Sport-utility: Ford is developing a sport-utility based on the Mazda 626. The new vehicle, code=named U204, will be built in the US starting in late 2000 and will be exported to Europe.
New mini: GM will base a new mini on the replacement for the Suzuki Wagon R+ in 2000. The Opel/Vauxhall version will have different bumpers, taillights, interior trim, suspensions and engines. The tall mini will be up to DM2,000 ($1,100) cheaper than the Corsa. It will be built at GM's new factory in Gliwice, Poland.
Corsa: GM's supermini will be replaced in 2000. The newcomer will use the company's Gamma platform, which will also be the basis of similar-sized North American cars.
A low-cost version will be built in an ultra-lean plant in Brazil beginning next year. The Brazilian car is based on the current Corsa and is expected to be GM's main product for emerging markets.
Astra: GM launched an all-new Astra last spring, starting with the three- and five-door and the station wagon. A four-door was added later. The Zafira minivan comes next January. A coupe and convertible are planned for late 1999, built by Bertone in Italy.
The next Astra is not expected before 2003. It will be based on GM's new Delta world platform.
Vectra: A replacement is planned for late 2001 or early 2002, using GM's new Epsilon global platform.
Omega: The Omega receives a facelift in 2000.
The replacement in 2002 will also use the Epsilon global platform.
Luxury car: A new Omega-based prestige car will debut in 2000. It will have a different body, an upgraded Omega interior and a Chevrolet V-8 engine.
GM Europe may later base a low-volume luxury car on GM's global rear-drive program, called Sigma. It would not appear before 2005.
Sintra: The two-year-old Sintra, which is based on a North American minivan platform, won't be replaced for at least five years. It will again be on a global platform.
Frontera/Monterey: The Frontera sport-utility, a rebadged Isuzu with Opel engines, gets a mild updating this fall and new engines: a 2.2-liter turbodiesel and 3.2-liter gasoline. The larger Monterey version will be available with two new engines, including a 3.0-liter common-rail diesel.
The next version could share a US platform with the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy.
106: The mini will be replaced in 2002. The new one will have a Citroen counterpart, but the two cars will look different. The successor will likely be smaller than the current 106. It will be equipped with a new generation of 1.1- to 1.6-liter engines.
206: An upper-range version will be added to the new supermini next spring. It will be equipped with a Siemens navigation system and 2.0-liter, 138hp gasoline or 2.0-liter, 90hp direct-injection turbocharged diesel engine. A sport version is expected later.
A FF100,000 ($17,000) coupe-convertible version is expected in early 2000. Peugeot showed the car as the 'two-oh-heart' at the Geneva show last March. Other 206 derivatives are possible. At the Paris show beginning later this month, Peugeot will unveil a sportwagon concept.
306: The successor is due in early 2001. Code-named T-5, it will be based on the new PSA small-car platform. Besides hatchback and station wagon versions, the 306 replacement will include three-box, coupe, convertible and minivan versions - all expected in 2002.
406: A facelift is expected in 1999, with a new radiator grill, smaller headlights, and new hood and bumpers. Peugeot is studying a four-door version of the highly-successful 406 coupe, using the same silhouette as the Pininfarina-designed two-door.
605: The top-of-the-range car will be replaced in early 2000. The new model, code-named Z8, could be called 607. It will be equipped with a 3.3-liter, 250hp version of the PSA-Renault V-6 engine. Peugeot might unveil a coupe version of the car at the 1999 Frankfurt show.
806: The successor is expected in 2001. Styling should be more aggressive than the current minivan and more differentiated from its Citroen and Fiat sister models.
Saxo: A facelift in 2000 will result in bigger front headlights, a larger radiator grill and a new 70hp diesel engine. An all-new successor should appear in 2002. It will be based on a new platform shared with the Peugeot 106 replacement. The two models will be built in PSA's Aulnay plant, near Paris.
Xsara: A compact minivan based on the Xsara will debut at the Paris auto show this month. It will go on sale in late 1999, equipped with new PSA direct-injection diesel engines. The Xsara successor, code-named B-5, is scheduled for 2002. Built at PSA's Sochaux plant, it will share a platform with the Peugeot 306 replacement. Design studies have just started at Citroen's styling center in Velizy, near Paris.
Xantia: The successor, code-named X-40, is due in late 2000. It will combine a three-box shape with a rear hatch. The X-40 will get a new hydraulic suspension and will be the first PSA model to be equipped with the Dynalto integrated starter-alternator system, developed by Isad, a division of Continental Tire.
The wagon version, now made by the French coachbuilder Heuliez, will be produced at Citroen's plant in Rennes, Brittany, starting in 2001.
XM: The next generation of Citroen's top-of-the-range sedan, code-named Y-5, will appear sometime after the Peugeot 605 successor that is scheduled for late 2000.
PSA managers want to avoid another simultaneous launch of the group's two top sedans. The future XM will probably use the same platform as the Xantia and Peugeot 406 successors and will be built in the same plant in Rennes.
Berlingo: The passenger-car version of the commercial van will get a third, side sliding door later this year. The lack of a sliding door has handicapped the Berlingo, and its Peugeot Partner twin, in their competition with the Renault Kangoo.
Evasion: A replacement is scheduled for 2001, again sharing a platform with the Peugeot and Fiat minivans. Exterior styling will be more differentiated. The new minivan will be equipped with the PSA-Renault V-6 engine, which is not available on the current generation.
Twingo: A facelifted version was launched this month, with new bumpers, headlights, dashboard and trim colors. Plans for a successor are not decided, but Renault is studying various ideas, including a four-door.
Clio: The new generation was launched last spring. A 16-valve, 1.6-liter 110hp gasoline engine and a 1.9-liter direct injection diesel will be available later this year. A sport version equipped with a more powerful engine will appear in 1999.
A three-box Clio for emerging markets will be built in Turkey beginning in 1999. Production is planned later for Brazil and Russia.
Megane: A station wagon, the sixth model in the Megane range, was introduced in Turkey this month. It will be launched in Europe next spring. The hatchback, introduced in late 1995, will be facelifted next year. Changes are planned for the radiator grill, headlights, bumpers and hood.
Scenic: A facelift is set for 1999, focusing on the headlights and hood. A four-wheel-drive sport-utility version is also due to appear next year, developed in cooperation with Magna-Steyr.
Laguna: After a light facelift this year, the car will be redesigned for 2000. Codenamed X-74, it will be the first model based on a new large-car platform that will also be used for the Safrane and Espace successors. Engines will include a new 2-liter, 140hp, direct-injection gasoline and a new turbodiesel.
Safrane: The 2001 successor to the current upper-range model is expected to reflect a new kind of a la francaise luxury car, partly inspired by the concept car that Renault will unveil at the Paris auto show this month.
Espace: Production of the minivan will shift from Matra to Renault's Sandouville plant when the Espace is replaced in 2003 or 2004. It will have a steel body, instead of the plastic body panels used on all Espace models to date.
Luxury car: As early as 2000, Matra will produce a luxury four-seater with two big swing-out doors. The first production version will probably be shown at the Geneva auto show next March.
Lupo: The all-new four-seat mini will be introduced next month to compete with the Renault Twingo and Ford Ka. The 3530mm long Lupo shares its platform with the Seat Arosa.
Initially, the Lupo will be available only with 1.2-liter engines - 50hp and 75hp gasoline and 60hp diesel. In 1999, a 100hp gasoline engine and a GTI version will be added.
The Lupo will also be the basis for VW's ultra fuel-efficient 'three-liter' car due in the spring of 1999. VW will cut the car's weight to under 800kg, using lightweight materials.
Polo: A facelift of the supermini, once planned for late this year, has been delayed until 2000 because of VW's hectic new-model plans. A full replacement is planned for late 2001.
Golf: The fourth-generation Golf debuted last year. Three- and five-door versions were available at the launch. At the end of this year, the Bora four-door sedan version will replace the Vento. In 1999, four-wheel drive and station wagon versions debut. A Golf IV convertible based on the Bora is expected in 2001, and a coupe could arrive then.
Last spring, the convertible based on the Golf III was freshened with cosmetic changes and new Golf IV engines.
Later this year, revised TDI turbodiesel engines and the VR6 six-cylinder will become available on the three- and five-door versions.
Small minivan: VW is developing a 4250mm compact minivan based on the Golf IV. Introduction is expected in 2000. Styling will be similar to the full-size Sharan minivan.
New Beetle: The Golf-based retro-car became an overnight hit in the USA in January. The New Beetle will go on sale in Germany in October, priced at DM34,950 ($20,000). Standard equipment will include a stability program and antilock brakes. Options will include 2.0-liter turbodiesels making 115hp and 90hp. A New Beetle convertible is due in 1999.
Passat: The Passat Plus planned for late 1999 or early 2000 will be VW's new flagship. It will use a Passat platform with the wheelbase extended by 8 centimeters. Six- and eight-cylinder engines from the Audi A6 and A8 will be available.
Sharan: A facelift and revised engines are planned for the seven-seater minivan within two years. But the Sharan still won't differ dramatically from its twin, the Ford Galaxy.
VW and Ford are studying whether to continue making the Sharan and Galaxy together in Palmela, Portugal. Neither company has to decide until after 2000. VW could take over the factory and base the next Sharan, due in 2003, on its eight-seat Transporter van.
Sport-utility: Due in 2002, the full-sized sport-utility will likely be based on the T4 commercial vehicle platform with permanent four-wheel drive. VW's VR6 and VR8 engines and Audi's 2.5-liter V-6 turbodiesel will be used. The sport-utility will be built either in Germany or Bratislava, Slovakia. The production target is about 80,000 units annually, with most destined for the USA.
W12: VW may produce the coupe/roadster based on the exotic show cars styled by ItalDesign. The show cars used VW's 420hp 5.6-liter V-12 engine.
Arosa: Introduced in 1997, the Arosa was the first to use Volkswagen's A00 platform. No changes are scheduled yet.
Ibiza: A major reworking arrives mid-1999. The shell will not change, but new equipment will update Seat's volume leader. New engines will include Volkswagen's 20-valve turbocharged engine. The 2.0-liter 8-valve engine is dropped.
Cordoba: Introduced in 1993, it is due for a facelift next year at the same time as its sister car, the Ibiza.
Toledo: The new flagship model debuts at the Paris auto show. European sales start next year. The new Toledo uses the Golf platform, although it has its own wheelbase.
The old Toledo was a hatchback; the new one is a sedan, with a trunk. Next year, new short and long hatchback versions of the Toledo will arrive as Seat carves up the segment into new niches.
Alhambra: The future of Seat's version of the Volkswagen-Ford joint-venture minivan is tied up with the rest of them. A facelift and revised engines are likely within two years. Longer term, Ford and VW don't have to decide the fate of their joint venture until 2000.
Big car: Seat may move upmarket by basing an Alfa Romeo 166-fighter on the Passat platform. No decision has been made, VW sources say.
Felicia: Following a facelift in the spring, a successor model is being planned on the same platform and running gear as the next Polo. The new Felicia will be launched in 2001 at around the same time as the German model, but will have a distinctive Skoda family appearance.
Octavia: A high-line version will debut at the Paris auto show, featuring executive-class features like leather trim, air conditioning and CD autochanger.
The version will carry a premium of $1,650-$5,500, depending on trim level and market. Revised exterior and interior details introduced on this version will spread to existing models. The Octavia still awaits launch in some non-European markets.
Luxury car: A new sedan above Octavia may revive the name Laurin & Klement, the original Czech auto manufacturer from which Skoda sprang. The Passat-based sedan is designed to use a W-8 engine, derived from the W-12 Volkswagen shown at the Tokyo auto show last autumn. Several alternative versions and variants exist at the design stage. Introduction is expected in 2001.