Dubai: At Fiat Chrysler’s Middle East operations, it’s the tail leading by some distance. Chrysler has been a consistently impressive performer over the years, a legacy built around the enduring affection for the Jeep and Cherokee badges.
In contrast, some of Fiat’s models of the past have managed to impress but never to an extent of becoming volume sellers in the region. It could be that other global markets were assigned higher priority by Fiat during this period. Now, that is set to change.
The top brass at Fiat Chrysler – the Italian carmaker acquired the US company in 2009 – wants to make sure the lag in the region is overcome once and for all.
“We’re already seeing increased sales of Fiat across the entire Middle East, and up to end October have achieved a 300 per cent year-on-year sales growth,” said Jerome Monce, director for importers and extra EU markets at Fiat Chrysler.
“We intend to build on this. The strategic global alliance between Fiat and Chrysler and recognition of the importance of the Middle East – in terms of its contribution to our global sales and as a key part of our strategy as we move forward as a unified group – has brought with it a new determination to revitalise the Fiat brand in the region.”
Those big expectations are initially being built on the small, the 500 to be precise. Already a regular sight on UAE roads, the 500 compact is quirky in its European design aesthetic.
Monce emphasizes that the 500 is the “platform of growth” for the entire range. At the Dubai International Motor Show, the all-new 2014 Fiat 500L Trekking – sporting a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine that can put out 160-hp – was showcased.
“The 500L expands the reach of the brand, appealing to customers who like the contemporary Italian style of the 500 but need more space and functionality to match their lifestyle needs,” said Monce. “It offers the whole package… and style that only Italians can create.”
The range will be padded up with the Abarth, a legendary name in Fiat racing credentials. (First built in 1949, the name was revived in 2007.)
Only 398 units of the commemorative car will be produced, of which 299 are destined for the carmaker’s EMEA Region Markets.
But having the right models can only go so far. Monce realises as much: “We’re currently in the midst of an on-going expansion of our dealer network programme for the Fiat brand and this will clearly help to increase awareness of the brand and ultimately generate sales.”
And no longer will the tail, Chrysler, need to do all of the heavy pulling in the region.