The new $18,800 starting price of the city car follows the Fiat and Alfa Romeo marques coming under the control of the Australian arm of the parent Fiat Chrysler company. The first official step has been to savage the cost of the cars to regain volume and reinstate the Italian brands on buyers’ shopping lists, along with expanding the dealer network to 46.
Fiat Chrysler managing director Clyde Campbell says there are only upsides for the brands. “There is latent, pent-up demand for these products,” he says, citing the “emotional attachment” people still have to the brands.
As a result, Campbell says, the advertising approach in the latest TV commercials has shifted from “advertising a price, like most car companies do, to advertising a feeling”
The 500 model range will expand to four models by 2015, with the TwinAir hatch, the Lounge cabrio, four-door 500L and SUV-styled 500X. A stripped down Pop model variant of the hatch will arrive later this year to give potential Fiat dealers buyers a bigger incentive to visit their dealers.
They will be joined by the four-door Fiat Punto hatch as a competitor to the Volkswagen Polo/Golf range, the Fiat Panda and the Freemont wagon. The Alfa stable will grow to include the 4C sports car and Spider convertible over the same timeframe.
The 4C is a mid-engined , rear-wheel “driver’s car” with a carbon fibre tub. It was first shown as a concept at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and has survived the transition into production without losing too many of the lines that wowed showgoers. The Spider will hatch from a joint-venture with Mazda to share the cost of developing what will also be the next-generation MX-5.
Car was now
Fiat 500 $22,990 $18,800
Alfa MiTo $31,990 $25,200
Alfa Giulietta $36,990 $29,350
The Dodge Journey will continue as a one-model brand in Australia, as least in the short term. Strong sales of the V6-powered seven-seater has convinced Fiat Chrysler to continue with the US-badged vehicle, despite discounting in bringing the critically acclaimed Dodge Dart small sedan.
Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Lenore Fletcher says the cover of the light and small segments with the Fiat and Alfa brands means there isn’t any room for the Dart.
“It doesn’t fit into the mix right now,” she notes. The Journey will be joined by a Fiat-badged derivate in April this year in the form of the Freemont. That vehicle will be sold in five and seven-seat guise but will be powered by a four-cylinder engine.