Speaking with the media at today’s Detroit auto show, the global head of Jeep and head of the Fiat Chrysler Group for Asia Pacific, Mike Manley, noted that Fiat’s recent move into India (as well as the launch of Jeep there) signals a potential opportunity for export to right-hand-drive markets such as South Africa and Australia.
“I think right-hand-drive export markets like South Africa and potentially Australia as well offer us a great chance to grow our business in India,” Manley said.
Models such as the Fiat Grande Punto, Linea and potentially the Viaggio could eventually be made in India for right-hand-drive markets such as Australia. Although China already produces Fiat vehicles, it’s unlikely that it will export to Australia in the near future, given the huge domestic demand and the additional cost of right-hand-drive assembly. This makes the Indian export strategy a viable solution for catering to right-hand-drive markets.
Manley used Hyundai as an example of a company that has essentially financed its Indian operations by creating a massive export market.
“If you take Hyundai for an example, in India, they export over 200,000 cars a year from to their other markets, [it has] been incredibly successful. They took an approach that said the Indian market is still evolving, a large part of the Indian market is still incredibly low price, so their strategy was more around making sure they had a sustainable base that included export.”
Although the potential arrival of Indian-made Fiats in local showrooms is some years away, if it does eventuate, it ties up nicely with Fiat’s plans to increase its sales and reduce its pricing for the Australian market. The Fiat 500 - the only Fiat model currently on sale in Australia - is made in Poland, while the sporty Abarth variants are produced in Italy.