Fiat Plans to Attract Customers in India With SUVs and Sporty Cars image

Fiat plans to expand in India, the world’s seventh-largest auto market.

Although Fiat was among the first Western automakers to enter India, it is the worst performing. The Italian automaker plans to open on April 1st a new, fully-owned 57-dealer network, aiming at attracting more than 1.2 customers in India. Currently the small car segment in this country is led by Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki, therefore Fiat plans to expand in the fast growing SUV and sports cars segments.

This year Fiat will introduce in India its Chrysler Jeep SUV and manufacture a smaller version of this model in the country by 2015, at the same time aiming at increased sales for its Abarth, which is the sports version of its Punto and 500 models.

“I think Fiat’s focus is on launching a couple of niche products and rebuilding the customer experience,” said Deepesh Rathore, Managing Director of IHS Automotive India. “It’s painful but it’s the time to tell the customer that Fiat is different from the image he or she has had in mind.”

In 2007 Fiat agreed to manufacture and sell cars in India with Tata Motors, but after three years of sluggish sales the Italian automaker decided to end the partnership in May 2012.