June 21, 2011 1:15:42 am
In what could be a turning point in Fiats operations in the country,the Indian subsidiary of the Italian car maker is mulling to introduce a car in the compact SUV segment. Among the options that the company is considering is to introduce certain modifications to its very popular compact SUV Sedici to suit Indian conditions. At present,Sedici is built by Suzuki Motors on the SX4 platform at its facility in Hungary. The car has been developed mainly for the European markets.
Over the past one year Fiat has been considering several options for its passenger car segment. Getting its product portfolio right is critical. Fiat wants to have a model in the SUV space which would be fuel efficient, a source privy to the discussions told FE. He said that either the company would introduce Sedici by making appropriate changes or would look at a very similar product within the same price range for the roads. He said the company was still in a discussion stage.
The Sedici was first showcased by Fiat in the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Once introduced this would be Fiat’s first offering in the B segment in India. A Fiat India spokesperson said the Sedici is not part of the company’s business plans in India. He,however,refused to elaborate any further. A Maruti Suzuki spokesperson declined to comment.
FE had reported in April this year that the company’s parent firm Fiat Group and its Indian JV partner Tata Motors has infused R150 crore into the company. The move was an attempt to wipe out the companys mounting losses which had reached R290 crore in 2009-10 and introduce fresh models for the Indian roads. Fiat Indias spokesperson had said the money was raised to meet the company’s short-term and long-term funding requirements.
Last week,Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata was quoted as saying in an interview that the company’s JV with Fiat had to be critically examined. He said Fiat should come up with more models and reduce the cost of its spare parts in the country. He,however,ruled out breaking away from the JV saying that intrinsically the concept of the deal was healthy.
Apart from Fiat,utility major Mahindra & Mahindra is working on a compact SUV,which is likely to hit the roads next year. Maruti Suzuki is also said to be working on an SUV. According to Abdul Majeed,leader (automotive practice),PricewaterhouseCoopers,smaller SUVs could soon be in vogue owing to its cheap maintenance and lesser fuel usage. Compact SUVs are going to become very popular in India because it appeals to the youth and is considered trendy since they are smaller and cheaper to maintain, Majeed said.
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