In the latest and surprising turn of events, FCA – Fiat Chrysler Automobile has decided to discontinue the Fiat Linea and Punto in India and their variants such as Abarth Punto, Avventura and Urban Cross. It comes as a major blow to the brand’s loyalists and car lovers in India.
Fiat – the Italian automobile brand was one of the earliest foreign automakers to make its presence felt in India since the 1960s. For instance, the Fiat 1100 Delight also known as Premier Padmini ruled the Indian car market during the 1970s and 80s. Many eminent personalities and celebrities of the time owned a Fiat during its prime years.
The decision is a result of Fiat’s shift in focus on the best selling Jeep brand hence FCA India plans to launch two new Jeep SUVs and one of the two will be a sub-4 meter variant for the mass market.
The end of Fiat vehicles indicates the availability of open manufacturing facilities for Jeep. Since the Jeep brand has gained a substantial foothold in India due to local production, it is inevitable for FCA to boost the brand that is known as the anchor of SUV segment instead of reviving Fiat by launching new SUVs under its own name.
The reason for the average to poor business of the Italian brand is the Indian automobile market’s rising trend towards the SUV segment. Since a long time, Fiat has been relying on its old Punto platform which has been apparently overtaken by its new age competitors.
As the fate of Fiat dealerships throughout India remains a big question, one probability could be the conversion into Jeep outlets. It would be a boon for FCA to multiply Jeep’s network in India at a rapid pace while the sellers get to hold on to their business.
After General Motors, Fiat is the second key global automaker to exit India, at a time when the country is poised to be the third largest automotive market in the world by 2020. It indicates that in order to create an indelible mark in India, automakers cannot be complacent in delivering and living up to the expectations of the masses.