FIAT 500

25.07.2007 ORDERS FOR THE FIAT 500 HAVE HIT 57,000

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed during a conference call with investors and analysts that dealer orders for the new Fiat 500, launched amidst huge fanfare earlier this month, have now reached 57,000. A hugely impressive figure to achieve in such as short time, this is approximately the entire production target set for the rest of this year.

Just three weeks ago today the Fiat 500 was official launched in an internationally-covered event on the banks of the River Po in Turin, a celebration that was watched by around 200,000 spectators and guests in Fiat's vibrant home city. The piazzas of Turin were given over to the ceremonies as the city commemorated in style the birth of an exciting new car. Media reaction was also very positive with few finding any fault with the Panda-architecture based model and it must be considered a strong favourite to scoop the prestigious 'Car of the Year' award later this year.

"We've had an incredible response to the 500, both in Italy and elsewhere," said Marchionne yesterday, who also announced an almost doubling of trading profits and very positive performances from all the Group's diverse divisions. Full year target is for production of 60,000 units, and the genuinely all-round capablities of the 500 mean it is being aimed squarely upmarket, targeting BMW's MINI in the 'lifestyle' segment. He confirmed that annual production at the Tychy factory in Poland where the 500 is being built alongside the Panda and 600 models will see its capacity for the new car raised up from an initial 120,000 units per year target. "I hope that some recent efforts we have made to cut out bottlenecks can help raise output to about 140,000 a year." He is also confident that the 500's margins won't be affected by a current wage dispute at Tychy: the NSZZ Solidarnosc union is looking for a doubling of the basic monthly starting salary for its members.
 

FIAT 500

Just three weeks ago today the Fiat 500 was official launched in an internationally-covered event on the banks of the River Po in Turin, a celebration that was watched by around 200,000 spectators and guests in Fiat's vibrant home city.

FIAT 500

Media reaction to the 500 (above, the launch event test drives) has been very positive with few finding any fault with the Panda architecture based model, and it must be considered a strong favourite to scoop the prestigious 'Car of the Year' award later this year.


This would bring their pay up to around 2,800 zlotys a month, targeting this rise now as Fiat's reliance on the Tychy plant to satisfy huge demand for the 500 really bites in. The low labour costs in Poland have allowed Fiat to increase margins on the cars it builds there; the unions have recently threatened strikes in September, although around 1 million euros in new bonuses were promised this month. "I'm not going to comment on wage increases," Marchionne told the conference call, "We will respond to the unions. We think we have ways to mitigate any extra costs that might arise. It shouldn't impact profitability."

Meanwhile the Bravo, which was launched in Italy in January, has received 55,000 orders up until the end of last month, and 42,000 of these have been delivered already, said Marchionne, who reaffirmed the full-year target of 120,000 units, pouring cold water on one analyst's expectations that this figure could be set to rise by about a third. "We're sticking with 120,000 in line with our prudent approach to targets," he said yesterday.

He also referred to the slower than expected pace of the pan-European roll-out of the Bravo, and its slightly sluggish performance on certain markets. "If you're asking me whether I'm ecstatic with the Bravo's current penetration I would have to say it would be a slight stretch to say that." There are some geographic elements that we need to assess further. We haven't done as well as expected in France and we need further information on our ability to get significant penetration in other markets."
 

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Fiat want the 500 to be much more than car, they want it to be a personal experience, a car that talks to you; and in the flesh it looks cute, compact, inviting and achingly fun

2007 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed

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