Fiat Auto are
taking a completely different approach to their past methods
of bringing a new model to the market with the new Stilo and
500, both key near-future models for the carmaker, said Fiat
Brand & Commercial CEO Luca De Meo last week.
"We are trying to do everything that is contrary to what we
did with the Stilo," he told the Reuters news agency
during an awards ceremony held last week. Launched in late
2001 the C-segment Stilo model made no ground in a
competitive marketplace, failing to captivate buyers in the
way that its predecessors, the Bravo/Brava and the Tipo were
able to do. Marketed as a direct rival to the VW Golf, the
Stilo model range offered none of the Italian flair that
buyers demanded, and initially struggled with pricing and
reliability. The new model will be built around the
well-regarded 'Compact' floorpan, architecture which will be
shared by the forthcoming Alfa 149 (which will replace the
Alfa 147) and Lancia's new C-segment contender which has
been referred to as the 'new Delta', and possibly by other
carmakers if on-going negotiations prove fruitful. Indeed,
the long term future of Fiat will see a reduction in the
number of platforms used throughout the range, with a focus
on fully exploiting component sharing.
development of the Compact platform has long been underway,
with the architecture appearing under a variety of cars. One of the earlier projects from
the Fiat Auto range using this platform was the Alfa Romeo
Project 921 "Kamal", of which prototypes
demonstrated its fantastic handling abilities in both front and
also all-wheel-drive configuration.
based Magna-Steyr engineering company are responsible for the
development of the Fiat Stilo replacement, and it is claimed
that the the car is now in a production ready state.
Surprisingly no prototype vehicles have been caught on
camera, a trait which lends to the level of professionalism
and confidentiality offered by the company. It is rumoured
that a surprise appearance of the car may take place in
Autumn this year at the Paris show. The new Stilo will be a
true Italian design, with sumptuous styling reflecting an
exciting and tasteful product for a wide group of
De Meo also discussed proposals for the new Fiat 500. Due to
be launched next autumn this subcompact model will be based
on the Panda floorpan and built at the Tychy plant in Poland as part
of a new joint venture with Ford Europe who will use their
version to replace the ageing current-generation Ka model
range. This joint venture has proved to be extremely successful,
with the project characterised by halved development costs.
Launched in late 2001 the C-segment Fiat Stilo model
range (above: the Stilo Multiwagon) made no ground
in a competitive marketplace, failing to captivate
buyers in the way that its predecessors, the
Bravo/Brava and the Tipo were able to do.
This official Fiat
Centro Stile sketch offers pointers towards the new
Stilo model incorporating 'family' styling cues
the very well received Grande Punto.
A foam model proposal for Progetto 940, the Alfa Romeo 149
replacement which will share the "Compact"
platform with the Stilo replacement.
With '500 days'
to go until the launch of the trendy Trepiuno inspired new 500, Fiat rolled out a
dedicated website, www.fiat500.com, which invites visitors
to customise their own model on-line, submitting a variety
styling proposals that Fiat will collect and analyse. In its
first fortnight the site received 2.5 million hits and Fiat
has collected 40,000 proposals to study. "People want to
contribute," said De Meo, who compared the new website to
Linux, the computer operating system software which has a
free source code that is open to be adapted by the
"Before, we used
a top-down approach, telling people, so to speak, what we
thought was best," Reuters also reported De Meo as
saying during the presentation of the Dante Giacosa award,
which is named after the engineer who was the driving force
behind the original Fiat 500 - a car that changed Italy,
"but we've decided to change that around," added De Meo.
This year the prestigious award went to Mauro Pierallini who
was in charge of developing the current Panda model. De Meo
was also dismissive of the recent drop in Fiat's share
price: "We will keep expanding and maintain our volumes," he
said. With the runaway sales success of the Grande Punto
model so far this year, Fiat Auto are banking on turning out
two further new hits with the new Stilo and 500 next year.