The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fiat India in double trouble

New Delhi, Nov. 6: Fiat India is facing an uphill task meeting its own marketing targets—a problem compounded by the resignations of two of its top marketing honchos.

Consequently, it wants to push through a new ad campaign featuring brand ambassador Sachin Tendulkar. However, this time around the ad campaign will involve its entire range of cars starting with the better-known Palio and Siena to more niche market products Weekend and Adventure.

After losing money on the Uno, Fiat had its hopes pinned on the Palio and its variants. Palio, the compact hatchback received a good response initially selling 3,500 to 4,000 units per month. But Fiat’s total sales last month hit a low of 1,305 cars. Cumulative sales for the 10 months ended October is, however, at 30,214 units, against 8,165 units a year ago. However Fiat is looking at a sales figure of 50,000 vehicles this year in order to break even.

As if the bad news on the sales front was not enough, two of Fiat’s top marketing men—Harmit Ahuja, general manager marketing and Sandeep Bharadwaj, general manger services—have resigned from the company within the last 15 days.

“Our marketing strategies are in need of a complete overhaul. The resignation of two important executives entirely due to personal problems has affected sales. Nobody could be appointed to the posts fast and this, incidentally, is the peak time for car sales ... but we hope this new campaign and other changes in strategy will increase sales,” a Fiat India spokesperson admitted.

The Palio Anniversary car that was launched to mark the completion of one year after the launch of A178 platform in India will also be the target of the new ad campaign.

“The dealers have received supply of the Palio Anniversary model with value added changes in the last week of October. Hopefully, the upgraded model with a minimum price tag will do the trick,” the spokesperson added.

The Anniversary model has cosmetic changes like a two-toned dashboard, same-coloured bumpers, a completely changed upholstery and knick-knacks that come Rs 7,000 dearer.

Fiat recently received permission from the government to increase the capacity of its Kurla plant from 60,000 cars per annum to 75,000 cars per annum, which could be achieved even with the existing set up if the company opts for three shifts instead of two at present.

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