Fiat mulls 500X Crossover and Jeep brand for India post March 2013
Fiat India is currently focusing on expanding its standalone dealerships across the country after the Italian brand chose to go it alone, quitting the Tata-Fiat joint dealership venture in that process. By March 2013, Fiat hopes to completely exit the Tata-Fiat dealership venture by having standalone Fiat dealerships at all places which currently are being served by the alliance. Once this exercise is finished, Fiat will begin focusing on new product launches. Until then though, the Linea sedan and Grande Punto hatchback will be the only mass market Fiats sold in the Indian market.
This is actually a good move from Fiat, which seems to be taking a slow and steady approach to the Indian car market, by first putting up a solid distribution chain before embarking upon a slew of product launches. In the past, Fiat has faced a lot of flak in India, for poor service at its dealerships, which led to the brand tying up with Tata Motors for the Tata-Fiat joint dealership venture. Now though, Fiat going it alone will allow the brand to ensure that its cars get the marketing muscle as well as good after sales service, a key factor if Fiat intends to re-establish itself as a serious player in India.
Fiat is considering the 500X crossover for the Indian market. The 500X crossover, based on the Grande Punto platform is a 5 seat crossover that will be launched globally by the end of 2013. The crossover was revealed through a video grab a week ago, in what seemed like a deliberate leak by Fiat to whet car buyer interest around this vehicle. The 500X will compete with the Mini Countryman globally. That said, it remains to be seen where Fiat will position the 500X if it indeed launches it in India. Considering that the 500X is a Mini Countryman rival, it could be a high end niche product in India as well.
Fiat is also considering bringing the Jeep brand to the country to sell a range of SUVs. Fiat acquired American automaker Chrysler a while ago and Jeep was one of the brand it got through this acquisition. Jeep makes a range of SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, which are well known for their off road ability. With the Jeep brand of SUVs Fiat could target the luxury segment pack of the Indian market, one which is seeing big growth.