Is the Fiat 500L based 7 seater MPV a Maruti Ertiga rival in India?
Italian automaker Fiat’s battle with iconic sporty hatchback brand Mini is resulting in a range of body options for the Fiat 500 hatchback range. While we saw the Fiat 500L hatchback being showcased earlier this year, as a competitor to the Mini range, more such variants have been planned by Fiat in the coming years. One such variant is an MPV based on the Fiat 500L hatchback, one which can seat seven passengers. The Fiat 500L MPV is essentially a stretched body version of the grown up hatchback, liberating the extra interior room for the additional passengers.
Apart from this change, the Fiat MPV is expected to be pretty much a stretched version of the 500L hatchback. The Fiat 500L is based on the Punto platform along with the upcoming 500X crossover. In similar fashion, expect the MPV based on the 500L hatchback to also share the Fiat Punto platform. There has been some talk about Fiat India contemplating the MPV for the Indian market, to compete with the recently launched Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. The Ertiga has become a big seller for Maruti in the MPV segment, led by the diesel version being the major volumes puller.
Given that Fiat supplies the 1.3 Liter Multijet turbo diesel engine that is used on the Ertiga, a similar powerplant on the Fiat 500L based MPV could give the Italian brand good volumes. That said, it would be a task in itself for Fiat to localize the MPV sufficiently given the fact that the 500 range is positioned as a brand builder in the Indian car market. For instance, the Fiat 500 hatchback is priced at over 15 lakhs in India as it is imported into the country as a completely built unit. While CKD assembly can reduce costs, it would take local manufacturing to arrive at a competitive price tag.
Compact MPVs are a very good option for the Indian car market given that the country’s families like traveling together. The versatility of a well priced MPV makes it a better option than C-segment sedans. Also, the compact size of these vehicles makes parking a breeze given that most Indian cities are quite crowded with parking space always at a premium. Given that Fiat India is establishing standalone dealerships across the country, its next task would be to launch well priced products suiting Indian needs. For this very reason, the Fiat 500L based compact MPV seems to be a great bet.