Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Oct 04, 2002
Marketing - New Products & Services
Fiat unveils upgraded Palio `Doblo' MUV undergoing tests
Mr M.P. Bianchi, Chairman and Managing Director, Fiat India Pvt Ltd, with the multi-utility vehicle `Doblo' which is currently undergoing clinic tests for a potential introduction in the Indian market.
MUMBAI, Oct. 3
TO celebrate the first anniversary of `Palio' on Indian roads, car manufacturer Fiat India Private Ltd today unveiled an upgraded range of the model, replacing its earlier line-up.
Refinements in the Palio anniversary range include painted bumpers, a rear wheel arch carpet for all base versions, enhanced fabric upholstery design, a two-toned dashboard, seat belts for rear passengers and fifth door inner trim. An additional colour for the car - hazel grey - is also being offered.
The new range is priced (ex-showroom, Delhi) at Rs 3,69,900 for the Palio EL MS, Rs 3,96,900 for the Palio EL PS, Rs 4,29,900 for the Palio ELX, Rs 4,55,000 for the Palio Sport and Rs 5,31,500 for the Palio (1.6) GTX.
Commercial deliveries will commence from October 7.
At a press briefing in connection with this, it was also disclosed that Fiat India was taking a serious look at the multi utility vehicle (MUV) segment with its `Doblo' model currently undergoing tests.
According to Mr M.P. Bianchi, Chairman & Managing Director, Fiat India, given the turnaround in the company's sales and market perception following the Palio's September 2001 launch, it was hoped that Fiat India would show profits by 2003. The company sold 36,081 cars over the September 2001-August 2002 period as against 7,609 cars sold in the corresponding year-ago period.
Total sales in September 2002 amounted to 1,503 cars, up from the previous corresponding level of 1,382 cars. Approximately 44 per cent of Fiat India's sales come from the western part of the country, 34 per cent from the north and the east and 22 per cent from the south.
In its first one year, more than 33,000 Palios were sold.
Sales of the Palio are projected to get a further fillip once the diesel version of the car is out in the market early next year. The prototype diesel Palio sporting a 1900 cc engine was also unveiled to the media at the plant.
"The diesel engine option will be available on the entire 178 platform,'' a related official statement said. Underlining the significance of the diesel option, Mr Bianchi pointed out that the Palio had given Fiat India a market share of almost 12 per cent in the B segment of the car market and seven per cent overall, while available only in the petrol version.
The company's dealerships have been increased from 51 to 66 and will touch 75 by the end of the year. Fiat already has 100 service points nationwide.
The Palio's localisation level has risen from the 75 per cent at the time of its launch, to 88 per cent. "I don't think it is possible to achieve more,'' Mr Bianchi said.
Fiat India continues to make the Uno, though against orders. At present, orders average 100-200 cars per month, a large part of that being for the car's diesel version.
According to Mr Bianchi, export prospects for the Palio from India are limited, since right hand drive markets are not many worldwide. Besides in some right hand drive markets, Fiat already manufactures the Palio. Nevertheless there is growing export of automobile components and Fiat India hopes to double its export turnover soon.
Over the three years - 2000, 2001 and 2002 - Fiat would have invested $150 million in its Indian operations. However with the domestic car market yet to generate sizable sales volume, Fiat's Ranjangaon facility continues to be on the backburner.
Asked about synergies with General Motors (GM), Mr Bianchi said that the Indian arms of Fiat and GM had earlier decided to work together on matters like logistics and components. Power trains - for which the two companies have shared ventures at the global level - may be looked into in the future in India as well, he said.
`Sachin wants some changes in his Ferrari'
SACHIN Tendulkar's new Ferrari may take a while to reach India as the cricketer has sought some modifications to it, the Fiat CMD said.
It may be recalled that Tendulkar, who is the brand ambassador here for Fiat's Palio, was gifted the keys to a Ferrari by Formula 1 racing champion Michael Schumacher when the two met in Silverstone, UK, in July. Mr Bianchi declined to reveal the nature of modifications sought by Tendulkar as well as the identity of the company that had presented the Ferrari.
But he said that notwithstanding the long waiting list for Ferraris, Tendulkar's car may come through fast given the excellent rapport between the cricketer and Schumacher.
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