News - Fiat - 500X
Big expectations for Fiat 500X
Fiat’s 500X small-SUV anticipated to substitute cheaper, deleted models
22 Feb 2016
By TUNG NGUYEN
FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia is confident that sales of its 500X crossover are set to rise despite an initially slow uptake, as it positions itself to capitalise on more well-heeled customers.
After three months on sale, Fiat has clocked just 181 total sales of its 500X, which has a starting price of $28,000 before on-road costs and is pitched as a more premium vehicle than its perceived small-SUV peers.
FCA Australia director of marketing and product strategy Zac Loo said the 500X is a big sales opportunity for Fiat and would help fill the void left by the Punto and Panda, which were discontinued last year to help elevate the brand's image.
“I think 500X, for us, is the biggest volume opportunity and that’s what we’re seeing from our customers and our dealers,” he said.
“We see that car will step up and become a vital part of the portfolio and we think as a brand, it will make up for any other vehicles that are no longer in the line-up.”
Mr Loo said that customer feedback for the 500X has been strong, especially on the back of a well-executed marketing campaign, with Fiat’s “blue pill” advert being the “most watched commercial the group has ever had”.
“We’re really happy with where it’s tracking,” he said. “We’re seeing, especially on the back of the ad, a big uplift in inquiry and, from our side, we’ve got a number of other things planned for it.
“We’ve got some other stuff planned for later in the year, but where it is standing now, we’re seeing really good inquiry and the dealerships are seeing a lot of people come through.
“They like the proposition, people are walking in saying ‘great, let’s take it’.”
Another freshly launched marketing campaign ties in with the recently released Zoolander 2 movie, which sees the titular character – played by Ben Stiller – driving the 500X through a traffic camera and flashing his signature Blue Steel look at a police officer.
While its platform-sharing sister car, the Jeep Renegade, saw a price cut early this year after initially slow sales, Mr Loo said the pricing reshuffle will not affect the 500X and that the Fiat SUV is where it needs to be in the market.
“So Renegade was more a by-product of saying, ‘we got the 500X in the sweet spot of where we wanted,’ and we moved the Renegade more in line with that,” he said.
While still too early to tell if the 500X will be a hit for FCA Australia, sales data shows Fiat registered 89 units in its launch month of November and a further 42 vehicles in December for a combined total of 131 units sold in 2015.
For comparison, the sold out Mazda CX-3 shifted 1396 units in its first month on sale, while fellow Japanese rival Honda sold moved HR-Vs in its debut month.
Fiat has managed to sell 50 units of the 500X in the first month of 2016, well off the pace of cheaper segment leaders including the Mitsubishi ASX (1393), Mazda CX-3 (1391), Nissan Qashqai (1161) and Honda HR-V(882).
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