In what could be a disappointing news for automotive enthusiasts in India, FCA has finally decided to pull the plug on the slow selling Fiat brand. The Fiat Punto, Linea and derivatives of these two models such as Abarth Punto, Avventura, and Urban Cross have been discontinued; reveals Live Mint and Economic Times.
The move comes as the auto giant shifts its focus on Jeep brand which has been having a strong run since the launch of Compass SUV. Moving forward, FCA India is planning to introduce two more SUVs under the Jeep brand of which one will be a sub-4 meter model aimed at the mass market.
The Indian auto market’s definite shift towards the SUV segment has rendered Fiat weak and unprofitable in the country. For years, the Italian brand has been chugging along with its old Punto platform which has no answer for the its modern rivals.
Now that the Jeep has been well established in India with local manufacturing operations, it makes more sense for FCA to promote the brand which is widely considered to be the creator of SUV segment rather than trying to revive Fiat by introducing new SUVs under its umbrella. The discontinuation of Fiat models also means that the free production capacity can now be used by Jeep.
It remains to be seen what will happen of the Fiat dealerships across the country. If we were to guess, a good majority of them could be converted into Jeep outlets. It would be a win-win situation as FCA would get to expand Jeep’s coverage in the country quickly while the dealers get to retain their business.
Though India is touted to become the third largest auto market in the world by 2020, Fiat is the second major global player to bow out of the country after General Motors. This demonstrates that there is no room for error in charting down the road map for India.