The swanky little 500 will keep carrying the flag for Fiat
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.