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Fiat to launch ‘new’ Petra next month

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Fiat to launch ‘new’ Petra next month

Fiat India is putting together a new strategy to grow its business in the country as part of the parent's decision to drive volumes outside Italy.

In another development, Fiat has decided to rename Maestro as Petra and will launch its diesel version next month.

"Yes, we are working out on a new strategy based on our parent's decision to drive volumes outside Italy," a company spokesperson told Business Line.

The spokesperson said the new strategy is at an advanced stage of being formulated and would be unveiled soon. He said the 1.9 lt Petra diesel would be the first launch this year and it could be followed by a few more launches.

Fiat Auto's new chief executive officer Mr Herbert Demel had announced that Fiat will look outside Italy to grow volumes and it would move towards relatively independent sub-units across its global operations.

The spokesperson said Maestro's name was changed because a tyre company's product carries the same name. He said the 1.9 lt Petra is built on the same platform as that of Siena and will compete with cars like Indigo.

The spokesperson said during the current calendar year, the company expects to sell slightly more than the 12,000 cars it sold in 2003. "We are in the midst of working out our new strategy and hence its implementation would take sometime before volumes would start growing," the spokesperson said.

In 2002, Ford sold a total of 32,000 units but sales fell drastically because of changes in its parent company, Fiat Auto.

The spokesperson said Palio constituted nearly 85 per cent of the total sales in 2003. Siena, Adventure and Uno are the other cars in Fiat's stable. Fiat India had earlier said Palio's success had helped it to reduce losses in its Indian operations by as much as 65 per cent over the previous year.

Since its launch in September, 2001, more than 50,000 Palios have been sold so far. The 1.2 ELX petrol variant of Palio accounts for over 60 per cent of the total sales of the car. Palio's latest version, the 1.9 diesel variant was launched in March, 2003.

The turnaround of the company began with the launch of the Palio in September 2001 as it opened up a new segment in the market with a 1.6 hatchback. Sources said Fiat carried out a clinic test about the customers' preferences and also undertook an extensive road test totalling about 100,000 kms. At the basic level, certain changes were incorporated like the car body was reinforced and the ground clearance was raised to suit Indian road conditions.

Fiat also brought out several variants of Palio at different price points in an attempt to cater to all the segments.

Fiat India plans to launch several new variants of the 178 platform on which Palio was built. It recently reduced the price of its spare parts by 35 per cent to boost its after sales service.


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