Although not ruling out associations with rival vehicle manufacturers in the future - Fiat is currently involved in ongoing talks with Mitsubishi - the launch of the Punto was cause for the company to focus on a bright future. The Fiat stable - also including Alfa Romeo and Lancia although the latter's model range is no longer on sale in the UK - is in the process of launching 19 new models between last year and 2002, of which new Punto is the sixth.
A UK spokesman said: 'Fiat is focused on its core business with a view to retaining leadership in a number of sectors. Worldwide, Fiat is looking to sell four million cars a year in the second half of the next decade, making the company one of the big sellers in the world. We will continue to expand in Europe and develop in emerging markets. We have product renewals and new launches planned in both volume and niche sectors.'
The spokesman added: 'We can stay independent but we are not ruling out some kind of association in the future. In the meantime we have a number of alliances, one of which is our new arrangement with Mitsubishi. We are bigger in the automotive technology market than people think. It is not a matter of Fiat hoping to find a suiter. Fiat is in the driving seat and we recently went after Volvo but we wanted to buy the whole company, not just the car division which went to Ford.'