The iconic Italian manufacturer, which switched back to factory distribution in Australia (from Ateco) in May last year, has been able to bring about the price reductions and restructure it originally desired following legal complications that prevented changes until February this year.
The Fiat 500 range has had its entry price cut from $22,990 to $18,800, with a new 500 Pop variant expected mid-year that will see the entry price reduced even further. The Fiat 500 Pop will potentially put the 500 in pricing competition with sub-light cars such as the Volkswagen Up! and Holden Barina Spark.
Meanwhile the convertible Fiat 500c, which currently comes with the Lounge trim level, has had its entry price cut from $25,990 to $21,200. The Abarth and Maserati versions of the Fiat 500 are also on their way, as is a Gucci limited edition model. Pricing restructures for Abarth variants are also in the pipeline.
Fiat Australia says its Alfa Romeo and Fiat dealership footprint has increased from 17 outlets to 46 in less than a year with the price restructure the first step in a larger plan to lure new buyers to the brand and increase the appeal and affordability of Fiat in Australia.
Fiat will also bring the Dodge-based Fiat Freemont to Australia in April, though it will be available with different drivetrains to its Journey counterpart, with the entry price claimed to shake up the seven-seat SUV segment. The Fiat Panda will follow later in the year (4x4 model in early 2014), as will the return of the Punto range.
Come 2014, the four-door Fiat 500L will make its Australian debut, followed a year later by the introduction of the highly anticipated Fiat 500X compact SUV, which will see the 500 range expanded to four different models.
Fiat Chrysler Australia’s CEO and Managing Director, Clyde Campbell, said with backing from factory the Fiat and Alfa Romeo operations are now planned for long term growth, not just short term gain.
“As a company-owned operation we are taking a long term view in which models to introduce and what’s the pay back period,” Campbell said.
He also stressed that 46 dealers is not the end of the brands expansion plans, but is simply a good starting point. The company has embarked on a multi-million dollar brand building campaign across multiple mediums.
Fiat Chrysler Australia has set up an entirely different division inside the business to take care of the Italian brands. It has also built a new parts warehouse within its Melbourne base to keep all spare parts, with Campbell noting that there are no longer issues with part supply for the Italian made cars going forward.
The complete restructure of the business and the long term plan to build confidence in both Italian brands in Australia is forecast to at least triple sales of Fiat and Alfa Romeo to 10,000 units combined by 2014.