Fiat India to unveil a high-powered Linea at 2010 Auto Expo in New Delhi
October 17, 2009
Fiat India, which is pulling out all stops to enhance its market share in the midsize sedan segment, is looking to unveil a high-powered diesel version
of Linea at the upcoming 2010 Auto Expo in New Delhi , scheduled for January next year. This would be in addition to its existing 1.3 litre diesel and a 1.4 litre petrol versions which have sold around 10,000 units since its launch in January this year.
“The Linea has everything going for it – looks, finish and a good price, except the one thing that matters most in a good car – power. In a test drive on National Highway 8, I drove the petrol-powered Linea up a flyover with 3 people in the car. The accelerator was pressed flat to the floor (yes, flat down) and it was still groaning under our combined weight while other cars whizzed past cocking a snook at us. If Fiat doesn’t change the engine soon enough, Fiat will end up driven by old ladies who drive to kitty parties and back,” commented Anindya Banerjee of Publicis India.
Meanwhile, Fiat India, which has recently announced its plans to double its research and development headcount is looking to reach 80 per cent localisation of its hatchback Grande Punto by March next year. It has already been making Linea with 85 per cent local content. Despite scaling up the local content of its cars, Fiat India is considering an upward revision of prices for the Punto and Linea after the end of the current quarter in its bid to offset the sudden surge in the international metal prices and the impact of the euro, which has become costlier for its suppliers.
On its exports front, the company has set an export target of 3,000-3,200 Lineas to South Africa in the next 12 months and would start exporting Grande Punto to that country as well. Palio is already being exported. The company, which has already exported 250 units of Linea to South Africa, will in the first phase cater to the neighbouring markets of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan and then look at markets such as New Zealand and Australia.
The company will also be exporting around 10,000 engines over the next 12 months, citing that Indian auto components are 15-20 per cent cheaper than the ones in developed markets. In the last six months, Fiat India has managed to export 25,000 small engines to Europe as against a target of 10,000 units, as quoted by a senior representative of the company.
Leading business daily, ‘Business Standard’ claims that Fiat India is looking to facelift its Paleo model in the next three to four months by either strapping the BS IV engines or borrow ones which are on Grande Punto. There were rumours earlier that this premium compact car priced above Rs. 3 lakh, was to have been discontinued from the domestic market as its sales have been dwindling for the past few years.
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