Gucci gan­der

The swanky lit­tle 500 will keep car­ry­ing the flag for Fiat

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars News -

pre­vi­ous lo­cal dis­trib­u­tor Ateco Au­to­mo­tive) had mar­keted only the high-spec 500s.

‘‘ Now we go to other ver­sions,’’ he says. ‘‘ We have the (four-door) 500L and plans for an SUV built on the 500. We want to be small, niche, Ital­ian and cafe— that is our fo­cus. Oh, and prof­itable.’’

He has out­lined a busi­ness case in which the 500 will be­come a pres­ti­gious car.

‘‘ It can be pre­mium and de­liver on the high ex­pec­ta­tions of our cus­tomers,’’ he says.

‘‘ It doesn’t have to be a vol­ume car. We can lever­age the ex­po­sure of the brand through Jeep and Chrysler deal­er­ships. Vol­ume isn’t the most im­por­tant as­pect.’’

At the Bei­jing mo­tor show, Fiat has un­veiled the 500 Gucci, a tie-up with the Ital­ian fash­ion house, a ver­sion soon to be avail­able in Australia.

Fran­cois con­firms the death of the Dodge brand and its re­place­ment with Fiat in most ma­jor mar­kets, as Fiat looks at mak­ing the Freemont— a re-badged Dodge Jour­ney peo­ple-mover— a niche model here. He says it was a ‘‘ sur­prise seller in Europe’’.

A seven-seat copy of the Jour­ney, which is still sold here, it hit the spot with Euro­pean buy­ers be­cause of its sim­plic­ity and func­tion­al­ity. But Fran­cois says Dodge has no place in the Fiat-chrysler al­liance.

‘‘ The Freemont was an op­por­tunis­tic car,’’ he says. ‘‘ It was never born a Fiat and we knew it was an Amer­i­can prod­uct, so how could it fit into Europe? Well, we have sold 35,000 Freemonts in Europe, built in our plant in Mex­ico, in less than 12 months. It is so suc­cess­ful that we now have to lift pro­duc­tion.’’

The Freemont could be in Australia by late next year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.