GENEVA -- The Fiat brand will never again be the mass-market marque it once was in Europe, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said.
The change reflects Fiat’s increasing strategic emphasis on profit and brand discipline, Marchionne said at the Geneva auto show this week.
Last year, the German premium brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all sold more cars in Europe than Fiat and once-niche mass-market brands such as Skoda sell nearly as many vehicles as Fiat.(See chart below.)
“In terms of the scope of a mass producer of vehicles, Fiat (brand) no longer offers -- and it never intends to have -- a full range of product of the kind mass brands have,” Marchionne said. “Fiat will lose its appeal as a general brand and it will focus on what it does best.“
Marchionne has gradually trimmed back the Fiat lineup in Europe to focus mostly on smaller cars such as the Panda and the 500 range, which includes the three-door 500 hatchback, 500L minivan and 500X crossover. The shift is part of a two-pronged model strategy for the upper and lower ends of the mass-market.
A long-delayed replacement for the Bravo compact car is slated in 2016. It will be built in Turkey. Meanwhile the aging Punto subcompact – once a top seller for Fiat – may be replaced by a 500-range model next year, although the company has not released its plans.