The Ital­ians are com­ing

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWLING

ITAL­IAN cars are poised to make their big­gest im­pact on the Aus­tralian mar­ket as Fiat and Alfa Romeo gear up with a dozen new mod­els within three years.

Un­der the Fiat Group um­brella, Fiat and Alfa badges will be worn by a new wagon, small hatch, con­vert­ible, coupe and an SUV.

The push is the big­gest made by the Ital­ians since the 1970s and means par­ent com­pany Fiat Chrysler Aus­tralia (FCA) must boost deal­er­ships to 52 early next year from the cur­rent 16.

FCA manag­ing di­rec­tor Clive Camp­bell says the Fiat and Alfa Romeo prod­ucts could no longer be seen as niche mod­els and had to sell in vol­ume.

‘‘We can’t in­crease vol­ume with­out in­creas­ing our dealer net­work,’’ he says.

He says more than 20 of those ad­di­tional deal­ers who will sell Fiat and Alfa cars will be ex­ist­ing Chrysler Jeep deal­ers.

The vol­ume will come from bring­ing in new mod­els — ini­tially vari­a­tions of ex­ist­ing mod­els — to give buy­ers dif­fer­ent trim lev­els and new en­try-level prices. There would be an ex­panded Fiat 500 range and dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta.

The range starts grow­ing with new mod­els from the sec­ond quar­ter of next year when the Fiat Freemont— a de­riv­a­tive of the Dodge Jour­ney— ar­rives, fol­lowed by the pos­si­bil­ity of the Fiat Punto hatch­back.

Then there will be the Alfa Gi­u­lia, new Gi­uli­etta, re­freshed Mito and 500, and the four-door 500 X and the all-wheel drive SUV 500.

More up­mar­ket is the planned joint-ven­ture con­vert­ible from Alfa and Mazda, based on the next MX-5. There is also the con­firmed pro­duc­tion of the Alfa 4C coupe.

‘‘What­ever is avail­able in right-hand form in the UK, we’re look­ing at,’’ Mr Camp­bell says. ‘‘I don’t want mod­els that will only sell 10 units a month — there will be 52 deal­ers to feed so we’re look­ing at high vol­umes.’’

Mr Camp­bell ad­mits that the hard­est sell will be the Mito— a car that hasn’t gelled with the Aus­tralian car­buy­ing pub­lic.

‘‘We haven’t found its slot,’’ he says. ‘‘But we won’t drop it.’’

The Fiat 500 JTD Lounge . . . a dozen new mod­els from Fiat and Alfa Romeo are expected in Aus­tralia within three years

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