The first step of the process has been a massive expansion of the dealership network, which has gone from 17 dealers to 46 in less than 12 months. The next step was the pricing restructure, which due to legal reasons caused by a distribution change, was unable to take affect until today.
Fiat and Alfa Romeo have both dropped prices substantially, with some models coming down by almost $8,000. Fiat Australia will be importing cheaper variants of the 500 (Pop), while also introducing the four-door 500L, Freemont crossover, Punto, Panda and the 500X compact SUV over the next 18 months.
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo will see a face-lifted MiTo in the near future and the confirmation of the 4C coupe (early 2014) and Spider (like to be in 2015) for our market.
In 2012 Alfa Romeo sold just 906 cars in Australia while Fiat fared slightly better with 1,432 units. The Italian brands, now all under the Fiat Chrysler umbrella based out of Melbourne, expect to lift total sales to at least 10,000 units in a full year of the new model structures and pricing plan.
Speaking to CarAdvice at today’s event, Fiat Chrysler Managing Director and CEO, Clyde Campbell, said the 10,000 sales target is a minimum with potential to do much more once the plans are in motion.
The relaunch strategy comes nine months after Fiat Chrysler took over distribution rights from Ateco, which had been in charge of the two Italian brands (as well as Ferrari and Maserati – for the time being).
Fiat Chrysler is investing millions into a brand-building campaign as well as completing an entirely new national parts warehouse in Melbourne to help improve the ownership experience with readily available spare parts.
Campbell admits that the business model for the Fiat and Alfa Romeo relaunch in Australia was heavily based on the UK, where the two brands have enjoyed reasonable success.
“We looked around the world and saw who does it well in right hand drive and it was the UK. [So we] looked at UK product, looked at UK position and try to replicate it as best we can.” Campbell said.
The company’s director of product strategy, Alex Tam, said the aim of the restructure is to “make the Italian cars more accessible and desirable… what we want to do is deliver a clear value proposition to our customers.”
Fiat Chrysler was the fastest growing automotive company in Australian last year and according to Campbell, the aim is to remain as such for 2013.
Nonetheless, 2014 and beyond will require additional tools to keep Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep growing at the same pace. This may result in the introduction of a captive (in-house) finance company and fixed-priced servicing and extended warranty programs.