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Fiat-Alfa targets four-fold sales increase

Italy calling: The Fiat Chrysler Group will focus on the connection Australia has to Italy to promote Fiat and Alfa Romeo in Australia.

New importer eyes “minimum” 10,000 sales for Fiat and Alfa in Australia

15 Feb 2013

NEW Fiat and Alfa Romeo importer Fiat Chrysler Group Australia plans to quadruple sales of the Italian brands and sell a minimum of 10,000 units a year in Australia.

Fiat and Alfa Romeo averaged only about 2500 sales a year combined in recent years, mostly under previous importer Ateco Automotive, which relinquished the franchises in the middle of last year.

Speaking at the announcement of the group’s brand realignment and pricing restructure, Fiat Chrysler Group Australia president and CEO Clyde Campbell said the 10,000 sales will be made up of about 2000 for the Fiat Professional commercial division, 3000-3500 for Alfa Romeo and the remaining 4500-5000 for Fiat passenger cars.

“We think that in a full year of full supply with a fully functioning network, that’s the minimum number,” said Mr Campbell.

There are currently 46 Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealers in Australia, but Mr Campbell said he hoped this would grow to between 65 to 70 dealerships as the model ranges expand.

“I personally think it is very hard to go significantly beyond 10,000 sales with a network of 46 dealers,” he said. “You actually get hamstrung by the size of your network.”

 center imageLeft: Fiat Chrysler Group Australia president and CEO Clyde Campbell.

All existing Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealers are multi-franchised, with no stand-alone dealers remaining in Australia.

Mr Campbell said 42 of the 46 dealers are multi-franchised with other non-Fiat Chrysler brands.

“What is traditionally seen as a liability or a disadvantage, we have actually turned into an advantage. We are really comfortable operating in that multi-franchise environment, because it keeps us honest,” he said.

“We know that to get the attention we have got to make more money for the dealers than their other brands. If we don’t, they will switch their focus to them.”

A multi-million-dollar marketing campaign is underway with new locally produced television commercials for both Fiat and Alfa Romeo already on air that aim to capture Australia’s connection to Italy.

Mr Campbell said that, despite announcing major price reductions across the range, they will not advertise the price of the cars, preferring the commercials to engage potential buyers to connect with the brand in the digital space.

Sponsorship will continue to be a key element of the Group’s marketing activities.

Fiat and Alfa Romeo sponsor the St George Illawarra NRL team and the Group has a multi-brand deal with Channel 10 to sponsor cooking reality show Masterchef.

Discussing Fiat and Alfa’s competition in Australia, Mr Campbell said that, while European brands such as Citroen, Peugeot and Volkswagen were on the radar, Fiat Chrysler is more focused on its own growth.

“We are not going to get into a price war with them, we just want to build something that is actually unique.

“We don’t have the tools that a lot of those guys have, so we are going to concentrate on what we do well, which is markedly different to what they do.”

Mr Campbell said the local arm of Fiat Chrysler was looking at introducing an in-house finance company in the next two years and is also investigating capped-price servicing.

“We plan as a combined entity to still be the fastest-growing car company in Australia this year, as a group, but to continue that right into 2014 and 2015, we are going to need to add not only product but tools that allow us to be competitive across all environments.”

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