Fleet News

Italian giant plans a 20-launch assault

A MASSIVE new launch programme of 20 new cars in four years is being prepared by Fiat in an all-out drive for profit.

In addition, as part of a multi-billion pound investment, there will be 23 face-lifts, new petrol and diesel engines a new six-speed gearbox, work on a closer relationship between Alfa Romeo and Maserati and the production of an all-new light commercial vehicle.

One of the most important arrivals is the new Fiat Grande Punto, which is being launched in Europe next month and due on sale in the UK in February next year. The manufacturer is pinning high hopes on it rejuvenating the range.

For the future, the carmaker has revealed it is working on a major new manufacturing alliance, just months after its break-up from GM.

Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne plans to sign an agreement with another carmaker by the year’s end, although it has ruled out an alliance with an Asian partner.

The Italian firm’s UK managing director Giulio Salomone revealed that it had generated savings of more than £30 million as part of a major restructuring of its operations in Britain. This included a major pull-back from short-cycle zero-profit business.

Franchised dealer service levels are also high on its list of UK priorities.

Sales are down about 50% this year at 21,833 (2004 YTD 46,725), but Fiat expects UK registrations to rise to 50,000 – 2% of the market – by the end of 2006, buoyed by new Grande Punto, Croma and Panda.

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