CARte Blanche

by Philip Djaferis

Its now FCA! Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

It has been some time since I put pen to paper and a lot of water has flowed under the Fiat-Chrysler bridge since.  

Incredibly Alfa Romeo is still languishing with essentially two models in its portfolio, setting aside the rather irrelevant in terms of volumes but nonetheless delectable 4C. The powers that be have decided not to invest in a weak market and also were drawing up plans for cars that probably nobody would wish to buy – sadly a trap that the Fiat group has fallen too often into the past few years.

So, instead of now, we have to wait for another year or two before we see a new mid-range Alfa to go head to head with BMW.  Hopefully the right products will emerge.  Mr. Marchione is promising a lot and one has to hope … 

Over at Fiat, the 500 ‘brand’ is sadly taking shape; the first variant is 500L and from what I observe its failing to make an impact except in Italy.  The exterior styling, at least from the front is a mega flop and the interior, although nice looking is very youth oriented and the back seat is uncomfortable in my view.  The stretched 500L Living is revolting to look at…The Punto is being allowed to wither and the Bravo is on its death bed.  The Freemont née as some sort of Dodge is trying to make an impression as a faux soft roader SUV/minivan and it doesn’t compare to anything else on the market, always a challenge in terms of marketing.  We are waiting with baited breath for the 500X, which hopefully will be a better looker than the 500L.  We have no mid-range Fiat at all! It looks like Fiat is more and more looking at niche markets in a manner that Nissan had abandoned medium sized cars and went with the Qashqai and Juke…

And Lancia? A total failure.  As I predicted in my previous article a couple of years back, the Flavia is an absolute flop – last stocks are being flogged off at half price as I write.  The Voyager sold a few to taxi companies and the like whilst the 300/Thema is languishing unsold in showrooms.  The Delta, compromised as it was from day one on the market is ceasing production in July 2014 with no replacement in sight.  The Ypsilon soldiers on on its own…too small for most buyers in my view or perhaps not small enough for others! In any case also a compromised design.

It all looks rather bleak…well, at least Ferrari and Maserati seem to have a clear product path…

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