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Cautious approach predicted for Fiat's future

Heavy hitter: Fiat's tiny 500 is having a big impact, with year-to-date sales up 100 per cent compared with the same period in 2013.

Fiat Chrysler group not resting on its laurels after an encouraging first-half

7 Aug 2014

THE head of Australia's fastest growing mainstream passenger car company – Fiat – says that it is not letting a bountiful first half of the year go to its head, as the Italian car-maker remains cautious about the future.

Speaking at the launch of the refreshed Fiat 500 and Abarth range, Fiat Chrysler Group CEO and president Veronica Johns told GoAuto that now is not a time for arrogance, and that the company is instead focused on steady growth.

“With Fiat and Alfa we expected to improve and we are always pleased, but you can never get too ahead of yourself because you don't know what consumers are going to do from one month to the next,” she said.

“We are very happy with our dealer network, we have great training initiatives in place for sales staff and sales managers, and we have really great product.

It's working really well.

“When you've got most of it right you expect good results.”

Sales of Fiat's passenger vehicles are up 171 per cent to the end of July compared with the same period last year, with its 500 micro car doing a majority of the leg-work.

The popular hatchback and pram-top convertible range is the fastest growing model in its segment, doubling sales at the same point last year, and a with a refresh to the range Fiat expects the trend to continue.

Just under 1700 of the little Fiats have been registered this year, and it is eclipsed only by the segment dominating Mitsubishi Mirage with 4470 registrations.

With more than 6000 sales of Fiat, Fiat Commercial and Alfa Romeo vehicles this year the company is expanding faster than any other brand in Australia.

“The figures are fantastic but we don't want to sound arrogant and say they are of course what we expected because anyone can say this is what we are going to do. If you added up every manufacturer's targets for the year we are going to be a 2.5 million car market,” said Ms Johns.

“Ambition is one thing but you've got make sure that you've got everything else working well to achieve ambitious numbers.”

American sister brand Jeep is also experiencing a sales surge, which is being driven partly by the steady introduction of new models, and by investment to the company infrastructure.

With a busy launch calender in to the next few years, Ms Johns said plans to maintain the expansion will go on.

“We've added new product to the line-up over the last few years. This year we've added Cherokee so we of course expect our numbers to be better and next year we are expecting them to be better than that.

“You can have the best product in the market but not have the supporting dealer network and then you won't be successful.

“You need lots of things working to be successful and we've managed to do that for the last four years.

“We're going to keep doing what we are doing at the moment, and when we see an opportunity we're going to jump on it.”

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