Enrico Atanasio, CEO, Fiat India at the Fiat Caffe.
Fiat is no stranger to India, and Indians are no strangers to the brand. For long acknowledged to be a car manufacturer with passion, Fiat has fallen by the wayside in the Indian marketplace, and today commands less than 1 % of the total market. This is a pitiable perfromance for a brand which has a long and illustrious history in the country. Indeed, the Premier Padmini was colloquially always referred to as a Fiat, and for long it was one of the few passenger cars for sale in India. The brand may have fallen on hard times, but Fiat is not giving up. The company has parachuted in Enrico Atanasio, an auto industry veteran and skilled hand at marketing, who has managed brands for General Motors, MG Rover, Land Rover, Mini, Alfa Romeo and Fiat in the past. autojunction.in brings you an exclusive one-on-one with the man in the hot seat. Some of his reponses are understandably non-comittal, although you wouldn't say they were cagey.
Atanasio was born in Greece, but has worked in Italy for many years, and so understands the Italian ethos and mentality. Perhaps that is what the brand needs to recapture to be successful in India once again, although the main focus at the moment seems to be to get the house in order.
AJ: What are the five key strategic considerations going forward for Fiat India?
EA: For the immediate we will be addressing the following:
1) Formation of the new Sales & Marketing company.
2) Putting in place an organisation.
3) Setting up 80 to 100 exclusive Fiat dealers within the next 12 to 18 months.
4) Evaluating the market to finalise a product portfolio for India.
5) Increasing our market share.
AJ: Presently, Fiat only sells two models in India. Which other segments is Fiat looking to enter in the Indian market? Does the Viaggio sedan have an Indian future?
EA: Yes Fiat has the Linea & Punto models in India but both these cover the B & C segments of the market which comprise 70 percent of the Indian automobile market. Moreover, we have the Linea & Punto in both, petrol & diesel and a wide range of variants for the customer to choose from. It is too early to talk about a specific model for now but no sooner we are ready will inform you through the media. We are studying all possibilities. The Viaggio is not in this years' business plan for India.
AJ: Does Fiat see a future for its range of commercial vehicles in this market?
EA: We are evaluating every aspect of the market as Fiat has a wide range of products in every segment in their stable in Turin.
AJ: What about the marquee brands like Alfa Romeo? Will we see an India launch soon?
EA: As mentioned above we are evaluating every aspect of the Indian market.
Cars like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione pictured here are some way away from an India launch, although never say never!
AJ: Is there a future for Chrysler models and brands in India?
EA: Same as above.
AJ: Does Fiat see India as a potential production hub for exports to Europe and elsewhere?
EA: Presently we are exporting to right hand drive markets like South Africa, Sri Lanka & Nepal.
AJ: How many more Fiat Caffe’s will be opened across the country?
EA: India is privileged to have 2 Fiat Caffe’s, Delhi & Pune. All other countries have just one.
AJ: What will be the focus of Fiat’s brand communication going forward, since the split with Tata Motors?
EA: Fiat enjoys a very strong history and brand awareness in India. The products are flawless and have been recognised for their style and technology. To focus on Futuristic Technology, Creditability and Reliability with a strong Indian connect thereby reviving the Fiat brand to make it a house hold name in India like earlier days and to instill confidence in prospective buyers / customers.
There is no split with Tata’s. The Tata-Fiat JV continues very much as before. The distribution arrangement we had to sell Fiat branded cars through the Tata-Fiat joint dealer network is being discontinued to make way for independent exclusive Fiat dealerships. This was necessary to take the Fiat brand to the next level.
The Fiat Doblo MPV might have an India future. Fiat India is understood to be studying this segment carefully.
Fiat Car Features
Fiat has parachuted in Enrico Atanasio, an auto industry veteran and skilled hand at marketing, to revive the brand's fortunes in India. Some of his reponses are understandably non-committal, although you wouldn't say they were cagey.
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