TURIN – Fiat has decided it won't launch a new conventional hatchback to rival the Volkswagen Golf, Europe's best-selling car. Instead Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne wants the Italian automaker to replace its slow-selling Bravo compact hatchback with an all-new high-roof crossover inspired by the hot-selling Nissan Qashqai.
Marchionne first hinted at Fiat's plan to make the bold product move at the Detroit auto show in January.
Fiat finalized the decision to make the switch late last month, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Automotive News Europe. The car will launch in 2013, the sources said.
Because of the Qashqai, Nissan has gone from being a non-factor to having the No. 5 seller in the crucial segment. (See chart, bottom)
The compact class is Europe's second-largest segment with total sales of 3.16 million units last year, according to data from JATO Dynamics. Compacts accounted for 22 percent of Europe's total sales of 14.3 million units last year. The subcompact segment was Europe's largest with 3.64 million sales and a 25 percent share.
The current Bravo and Qashqai both launched in Europe in 2007. Their sales results were close at first but last year the Qashqai outsold the Bravo by a 5-to-1 margin (216,091 to 44,850), according to JATO data.