Fiat are all but going back to the beginning in terms of their market strategy in Ireland, and the iconic 500 series, in all its manifestations, will spearhead the drive to recover lost ground.
A decade and more ago the Italian giants were real contenders. They commanded a healthy 7% market share. But in the mid-nineties their market penetration began to slide. Now it is below 0.5%.
With a new management and marketing set-up here, Fiat are ready to fight back. That still young looking and fresh baby from the fifties, the 500, along with new big brothers like the rugged 500L Trekking and 500L MPW (7-seater) will lead the hoped for recovery.
The Panda, a top driving former European car of the year, Punto and Doblo are still part of the Fiat fleet. The company will work off its current 12 sales and 23 service outlets around the country during the regeneration programme. The intention is that in time the Fiat Ireland team will be expanded.
Yann Chabert, the Country Director for Fiat in Ireland, said since his arrival in July he had worked on establishing a new awareness of the brand, including a freshening up of the website. The products were very good, he insisted, and came with a 5-year factory backed warranty.
A special 10-day sales event is operating until November 18. Dealers will remain open, including Sundays, to affor families the opportunity to discover the entire range. Fiat is also offering savings ranging from €500 up to €1,750, depending on the trade in and the model chosen, for the duration of the sales initiative.
“We are working in a positive way to improve things,” Mr Chabert insisted. “The 500 family will help us succeed. In 2015/16 we would hope to be in a position to grow our dealer network.”
The well equipped 500 is available in three trim levels, Pop (1.2litre), Colour Therapy (1.2 and 0.9 Twin Air) and Lounge (1.2 and 0.9 Twin Air) n fresh and striking colours. Prices begin at 12,995 euro.
There is also a high spec 500S with the same engine line up that is epected to reach out to new customers. The heavy features list includes dark tinted windows, sports seats, top rear spoiler, chrome exhaust, 15” alloy wheels, ABS with EBD, Start&Stop system and air cond. The entry price here is 15,195 euro.
The 500 goes large with the L, which Fiat reckon is a game changer and will add ‘coolness to the MPV segment’. They expect up to 70% of conquest sales with this one.
This is an eye catcher offering three roofs, body coloured, white or black and petrol and diesel options. This car offers a 400 litre boot capacity. Prices begin at 21,750 euro.
The high end Trekking version comes with traction+, city brake control, increased ground clear and 17” alloys with all season tyres. There are petrol and diesel options. Prices begin at 24,000 euro.