Italian carmaker Fiat is now eyeing Chrysler models, which it plans to manufacture locally, to make an impact in the Indian market. The likely date of rollout is 2016.
And though the company has not finalised exactly which variants it would manufacture locally, the models to be eventually shortlisted would initially be launched as completely built units (CBUs) and then localised. This might be
to test market response to the products.
As part of the strategy, Fiat Group Automobiles India (FGAIPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has already announced plans to launch nine new models by end of 2016. Five will emerge from the Fiat brand, including the Abarth, by this year end. The rest are going to be Chrysler brands, including the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
Fiat believes demand will pick up in second half of this year, post-elections, after which it will look at the Chrysler launches.
“India is a strategic, long-term market and we are bullish on it. We are planning to launch nine new models by 2016, of which five will be launched by the end of 2014. The Chrysler models will cater to a more premium segment,” said Nagesh Basavanhalli, president and managing director, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles India.
Fiat is likely to follow a top-down approach when introducing the Chrysler brands, which will compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and others. Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee are expected to be introduced first, followed by mass market SUVs in the B and C segments of the Indian car market.
FGAIPL claims it is also leaving no stone unturned in making sure the dealership presence is appropriate enough to yield immediate returns. Chrysler models will be sold through independent dealerships. The company aims to end this year with 150 Fiat dealers, and add at least 50 more dealers every year.