BOLOGNA - The Alfa Romeo 147 may be the hottest car in Europe, but Fiat Auto isn't taking full advantage, says Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz (below).
Fiat Auto's plain-talking new sales and marketing boss says 147 production will be increased by a third next year and may go even higher.
The former Toyota and Volkswagen executive said Fiat will increase production to 120,000 units in 2001 from the current plan for 90,000-100,000.
'This car is much hotter than Fiat planned,' Diaz Ruiz said. 'We received 30,000 dealer orders for the 147 in little more than one month. This is taking the waiting list from 12 to 15 weeks, which is far too long. My personal opinion is this car has a 150,000 units a year potential.'
The 147 was launched in Italy in October. It was recently named Europe's car of the year.
Diaz Ruiz, who started his career at Ford before leading sales surges at Seat, Audi and Toyota, is known for his outspokenness. He hasn't lost that trait since moving to Fiat Auto from Toyota six months ago.
For instance, he says the company must promote itself better.
'We have extraordinary capacities and we should communicate them,' he said. 'We invented the JTD [common-rail direct injection] and we were unable to communicate it. Now somebody else is taking credit for it.'
It was the same with platform strategy that 'was invented by Fiat Auto many, many years ago,' he said. 'This company sets the pace for the entire industry, but is not able to communicate what it does. I really want this to change.'