Made-in-India Fiat Linea and Grande Punto to head to RHD export markets
Saddled with a production capacity of 135,000 cars per year at its Ranjangaon manufacturing plant, Fiat India has been able to utilize only 50% of the installed capacity. That said, the Linea sedan and the Grande Punto hatchback form under 20% of Fiat India’s production in India with the rest of the 30% being taken up by Tata cars like the Indica Vista and the Indigo Manza. To utilize the additional production capacity, Fiat India is looking at right hand drive export markets like the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.
Apart from the exports of the Linea and the Grande Punto, Fiat will need the additional capacity for the new range of cars it plans to launch in India. Also, the Jeep range of SUVs will be manufactured at the Ranjangaon factory, which can be expanded to build 180,000 cars. Fiat sells the Linea and the Grande Punto in a wide range of petrol and diesel engined variants. The Fiat Linea was the first C-Segment car in India to be offered with a turbo petrol engine in the form of the T-Jet variant while the Grande Punto was the first diesel powered hot hatch in the B+ sement hatchback space.
However, the Tata-Fiat joint venture for sales and service of Fiat cars in India came a cropper, leading to slow sales of what are otherwise extremely capable cars. Fiat has embarked upon a major dealership expansion program, with the Italian car brand seeking to establish no less than 100 independent Fiat dealerships and after sales service centers across India by the end of 2013. This massive dealership expansion initiative is expected to boost sales of the Linea and the Grande Punto by a significant margin. Both cars are known for their solid build quality that endows them with a solidity that isn’t found on many other B-Segment and C-Segment cars in India.
The Grande Punto and Linea are excellent handlers and are also loved by Fiat enthusiasts for their styling that features the typical Italian flair. In the coming years, Fiat India will launch four cars to be positioned under the Fiat brand. The facelifted Grande Punto will be the first such model and is expected to be launched in early 2014.
The same year will also see the launch of the all new Fiat Linea sedan. The current Linea sedan will be repositioned lower down the price spectrum, with the Linea Classic moniker. The Linea Classic will be priced lower than the current model while the all new 2014 Linea will take the place of the current model in 2014. Between 2015 and 2016, Fiat India will launch a B-Segment SUV to take on the likes of the Ford EcoSport and the Renault Duster.