WHAT’S THE REA­SON FOR FIAT’S NEW AP­PROACH?

Autocar - - NEWS - JAMES ATTWOOD

The rapid rise in the num­ber of ma­jor cities in­tro­duc­ing charges for com­bus­tion-en­gined cars is likely to lead to an in­crease in de­mand for elec­tri­fied city cars. The chal­lenge for car firms is that it’s al­ready dif­fi­cult to make money from small and cheap mod­els.

But Fiat has man­aged to do just that with the 500 since re­launch­ing that model, largely be­cause buy­ers are pre­pared to pay a pre­mium for its retro charms.

This ex­plains why FCA has de­cided to fo­cus the Fiat brand, in Europe at least, on elec­tri­fied ver­sions of the pop­u­lar 500 and Panda cars, ax­ing the low­er­vol­ume Punto en­tirely. By dou­bling down on retro de­sign – in­clud­ing the re­launch of the 500 Giar­diniera – the firm will fo­cus on the more profitable pre­mium city car mar­ket, where it will be better able to ab­sorb the cost of elec­tri­fied pow­er­trains.

It’s a bold move for Fiat, ef­fec­tively end­ing its run as a car brand that spanned the en­tire mar­ket. But it’s a more fo­cused ap­proach that could, if done well, bol­ster the ven­er­a­ble 500’s po­si­tion.

Panda to join 500 in new push

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