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Fiat India - Future Plans

Discussion in 'Fiat India News' started by Ravi, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. acechip

    acechip Superiore

    @prabhjot, let me tell you what I think of this whole design issue. Take the Linea. From an aesthetic perspective, I believe the smooth flowing lines do resonate inside the cabin, particularly when looked at straight inside from the front. You can almost see the entire car frame wrapping itself around the cabin in the Linea from that view. But, but- the particularly thick frame lends itself useless when it comes to creating space for rear occupants. Here is where the staid looking Etios and Corolla and City score better.
    Now get behind the wheel, and the first thing that strikes me is the absolutely massive and solid feeling A-pillars guiding that raked in windscreen. Makes you feel inside a 1960s fighter jet cockpit. But just as in the case of the 1960s fighter jet, the side-to-side visibility is affected , especially on the twisties and in turning into narrow lanes. That A pillar can hide a small hatchback like an M-800/Alto at some angles, its that thick!
    In contrast, the other cars have a slightly better view, but a staid feel. Then there is this vexed right-left wiper-headlamp orientation.
    Moving on, I have never found this whole B&M thing very user-friendly, to be honest. And the access to the USB data on the smallish MID screen is just frustrating at times. It is so much better on my Micra for example, where you can view the entire folder at a glance, and its right on the HU. Agreed, its an Italian quirk, but should have been addressed in 2014 versions (apparently not!) .

    The Honda City has better head room in the rear, and also more legspace, and so does the Etios.

    Now let us take a look at the drive of a T-Jet from a newbie or MSIL-bred driver. Engage 1st gear with some difficulty because of the long clutch travel , then turn the heavy steering (if reqd) and the car takes a bit of a jolt if you disengage the clutch quickly. Well, continue to 2nd, and the car is utterly lifeless-30 kph, 1300 rpm, then you bring up the 3rd, the car seems to be pottering around at 40-50.When you push the accelerator past 2000 rpm suddenly the car goes 'wild' , nearly out of control and you have to brake quickly to avoid bumping onto the traffic ahead. Hell, where did that spike of power come from, you wonder.
    You see, the average Indian is bred on the 40kph-5th gear logic, or a linear 1500-3000 power delivery minus the spikes. It would be difficult for him (much less her) to control the power spikes in the 3rd and 4th gear, in moderate city traffic, coupled with a long hood , heavy steering ,long travel clutch and notchy-if-not-rubbery gearshift. Phew ! I am afraid that is more than the average desi driver can handle. Where does he have the time or the opportunity to savour the joy of driving?
    He would like a really butter smooth steering at all times, smooth accelaration, whisper quiet engine and light and deft responses in traffic. And when the fuel gauge slides down at a glacial pace, it brings a big grin on his face. Just like the Honda City, Verna or the VW twins in case of diesel (although they are noiser than MJD).

    There are several other points, but , ultimately ,Fiat has made the car purely from an experienced enthusiast drivers perspective, who doesnt mind the G-forces experienced at the sharp curves, the taut steering and suspension and a general fighter-plane like handling. And Indians are only beginning to "drive " cars, much less throw them around, fast and furious.

    Those interested in Aviation may recollect that during the early jet age, the British came up with the Vickers VC-10, a superlative design in many respects to the more popular Boeing 707/Douglas DC-8. It was not successful though. I see many parallels with the Fiat products story so far.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
    asimpleson, Raj_pol, prabhjot and 2 others like this.
  2. prabhjot

    prabhjot Esperto

    delhi ncr

    Form(s) AND function(s), with minimal or unavoidable trade-offs only, depending on price of course. Part of what makes the Linea and Punto distinctive, and distinguished in the poor company they keep in the Indian mass market is that the trade-offs are good ones. Although: part of what makes the Italians and the French distinctive when it comes to such things is to prioritize form (and speed) above all. But what Fiat does particularly well is 'translate' the functional compromise into something beautiful, through design 'solutions' that work beautifully!

    eg., with the Linea: the hatch-to-sedan transformation, which is an art as the awkward sub 4m sedans and others like the Ford Fiesta show, has never been done any better than between the Punto and the Linea!

    e.g., the new honda City has more legroom BUT that has been achieved because of the world's smallest-for-a-full-sedan fuel tank, FAR tinier than on the Linea! It has the pseudo-coupe roofline BUT at the cost of poor-to-nil rearward visibility for that very reason. The Linea's solution is vastly better functionally AND aesthetically: a curved, almost bubble-like roof-line that leaves enough headroom (for those under 6 ft 2 inches tall say) while ensuring that this coupe-effect does not result, like in the new City, in poor rearward visibility. And a proper, big fuel tank too.

    e.g., Consider the 500L: a functionalist segment if ever there was one: family MPV in Europe and America. So, to max out space: make a box, BUT then round-out every edge on the car, from buttons and dials to the car's very edges and tail-lamps etc. And for better visibility use a split, mostly glass A-pillar. The result is the roomiest, most useful car for its class AND the 'cutest'/'mommy chic' car AT THE SAME TIME.

    e.g., consider the utterly brilliant and weird Fiat Multipla, whose successor the 500L is. Google it, though you might already be familiar with its design AND functional 'genius'. Avant-garde stuff!

    e.g., consider the Avventura. Small main grill: all black with chrome surround. Great, 'aggressive' beginning. But then, unlike the Grande Punto and the Linea: give it a wide, black chin on the bumper that then wraps around, over the wheel arches and beyond. Push the foglights to the outer edge of that unbroken, continuous (unlike Linea) chin. Meanwhile the headlamps start out at the edge but taper bluntly in. The result? Tremendous visual drama: the tapering headlights point to a point (Punto!) several feet ahead of the car where they would meet if extended (i.e., a sense of motion even when static, and no 'fluidic' rubbish either!), while at the same time the wide chin, wrapped around the edge, stretches the car visually width-wise. And so you have: sharp, linear, pointed-ness ('Punto'!) AND a sense of width and heft and girth. i.e., 2 very dissimilar, different design/form-al 'ideas' yet...the SAME car! One for a hatch...the other for the crossover.


    etc: don't get me started on the utter, utter formal beauty of the Linea's tail-lamps and their detailing!;):cool:

    PS: the new 2014 Linea t-jet's different to the earlier avatar/edition in that it's (a) steering is lighter at slow speeds and (b) its turbo-spooling is early and very linear with only a minimal sense of lag. Fiat really HAVE worked to improve on the very few complaint-areas about the earlier car!
  3. Raj_pol

    Raj_pol Regolare

    Punto Evo 1.3
    @prabhjot You are very tactful in avoiding the questions that I raise?

    I will go back to the same points.

    1. Why not improve the gearbox? See as of now any enthusiast car that we have (far from world standards though) are the GT twins. Anyways why should an enthusiast not bother about the gearbox?

    2. Why should not an enthusiast not bother about engines? The FIRE engines? You kidding me right. In what world would an enthusiast drive a 67 BHP engine. So for an enthusiast who is also a petrol head FIAT has nothing in the hatchback segment.

    3. Safety. Fiat has airbags only in the top version of the Punto and we do not have any top version of the Avventura.

    Forget the herd, forget suzuki, why should an enthusiast buy a FIRE engine or a car without airbags.

    As I said, forget suzuki, forget Honda, even for the so called enthusiasts there is nothing from FIAT.

    I personally went a little broke buying the diesel Punto because frankly the FIRE engines suck and both me and my wife loved the looks of the Punto. I was dead against buying a car without airbags. If they had it in a lower version, I would have bought the lower version.

    Do you have an answer for my specific questions. The Italian beauty, style etc etc answer from you I already have :D

    p.s. If only they had a T-jet Punto. Ma kasam dil khush ho jaata
    GirishRaghu and prabhjot like this.
  4. acechip

    acechip Superiore

    @prabhjot Linea's fuel capacity is 45 litres and Honda City is 42 litres. Linea isnt any significantly better. In fact, the Vento/Rapid are perhaps segment best with 55 litres.
    With regards the Avventura, you have not pointed out the utter lack of common sense displayed in not increasing the boot space, and rather making this whole boot entry a cumbersome affair. The Avventura owner will be silently cursing Fiat everytime he has to wield that vault like opening. So much thought into the external design- zero thinking on a convenient boot entry and release mechanism ? This is the problem- no thought for the desi mindset.
    asimpleson and prabhjot like this.
  5. prabhjot

    prabhjot Esperto

    delhi ncr

    I agree! Though the 1.4 Fire is NOT bad, really!

    The point, i suppose, though is that (a) 'enthusiasts' are a vanishingly small percentage of the car-buying public, at least until recently, and even they are (mostly) too concerned about the alleged ASS deficiencies and resale and social 'status' to buy the Punto in large numbers: they buy Swifts, instead.;)

    (b) Fiat have taken too long to realize, if they even have now, that they have been wasting their time trying to compete for the non-informed, un-enthusiast car buyers' attentions and affections: i.e., trying to compete with the Jap and the Korean cars in a car culture that does not understand or care for safety, ride, handling, braking, build quality, long-service intervals, feelsome steerings, and the like. IMO that train left the station a few years ago, leaving Fiat on the platform! Whatever Fiat's timidity and resource-constraints in terms of advertizing, this car market is (especially outside of south India) 'like this only!'

    So yeah, one can only hope that they leave those revenues for the Tata JV/engine+amt supplies to Maruti, and:

    Bring the t-jet in all 3 cars, all-4 disc brakes, airbags across trims, and even a touchscreen ICE. Later: bring in the 1.6 mjd too, in ALL 3 cars. Bring up-tuned Abarth-s too. Advertize accordingly: let us see then how many true 'enthusiasts' there actually are in this marketplace! The 1.3 mjd 75 hp and the 1.2 Fire will continue to sell what they'll sell, at delicious Fiat prices, meanwhile?

    Fiat's in the (un)enviable position of being-appealing/compelling pretty much only to well-informed 'enthusiasts'. They should try to make a virtue of it, including through 'education' or incitement trying to expand the numbers of enthusiast-buyers, give up trying to pretend they stand any chance in the wider mass-market for status-badge car-appliances.

    In any case: a lot more advertizing and PR and spin and hype are required, only louder, brasher, 'sexier'.

    --- Double Post Merged, Feb 1, 2015 ---


    Fiat haven't done anything with this mechanism to make it any more 'cumbersome' than a last-gen Merc M-Class, or a VW Touareg or a current all-new Brazilian Chevrolet Trax (?)

    Besides: what Fiat thought people would say: hey what the hell?, anything for beautiful, transformational 'form', right? The 'Italian way', right?! Except that the 'desi mindset' wants silver-plastic cladding in a Cross version of a hatch, nothing more!:p
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  6. acechip

    acechip Superiore

    @prabhjot- the desi owner would happily flaunt these quirks in a M-Class or VW-Touareg. Not in a 7-lac car. That is exactly the problem that Fiat has- assuming their thought process mirrors yours. I am not saying that the Polo Cross/Etios Cross are superior form and function-wise. But- the boot!! Thats one of the first parts of a car a prospective buyer checks. And imagine him looking at the Avventura boot, figuring out the boot mechanism and right next to him is a regular Punto Evo. And that one has the same space as the Avventura , only much easier to access! So what was the point of the whole trouble ? Pretty dumb, he'll say. And he would be right.
    And then he wont look at the 205mm GC , or the anti-roll bar in the rear and the other whatnots. Because he is getting the same 90BHP engine in the Evo. So what would make Avventura really special in his eyes ? Roof rails ? Those fancy thingummies showing how the car shimmies ? (inclinometer) Nah- wheres the touchscreen ? Not on offer.

    My suggestion to Fiat. In the present scheme of things, they had better do some research on who are their target buyer segment (read-real Fiat car enthusiasts) and make focused marketing efforts to connect with them directly. Selling the cars like they would in the traditional dealership channel just isnt going to cut it. And then there is the whole issue of dealer sales staff. God only knows what heap of rubbish they must be layering on the customer in a frantic bid to sell the car. USually you can "sort" out a sales person with one or two pointed questions.
    Raj_pol, prabhjot and asimpleson like this.
  7. prabhjot

    prabhjot Esperto

    delhi ncr
    @acechip ....but it's not as if he'd buy the ever-so-vfm Evo instead of the Avventura, he'll probably plump-up a lakh+ more than an Avventura for a a crossover that is inferior to it (the Ecosport) or even the just-awful-and-not-cheap-either Etios Cross!

    i.e., if the idea, at a minimum, was to use the Avventura to not just add a few hundred to sales but also to boost the brand and get more people foot-falling the Fiat dealerships, and perhaps selling them an Evo in case they don't quite 'get' the Avventura: well, then all I can say on their behalf is that the idea was a sound one, and is a standard 'marketing' approach across all car firms, across all price points, across the world. No strange lazy Italian incompetence or failure-to-understand the Indian market there!

    Sorry, a correction to my previous statement. A considerable failure to understand the median Indian car buyer!

    That buyer does not want high GC or top-notch ride and comfort and handling etc. He wants the 'status' of a well-accepted badge, and the styling, even if with less-to-no substance, distinction of a non-hatch/non-sedan which he construes as somehow more...er 'macho'. That's all. i.e., he wants an Etios Cross, a base-level Scorpio perhaps, or maybe if he has little regard for the value-of-his-rupee, an Ecosport.

    Fiat made the mistake of trying to imbue this CrossPunto with styling panache (subtle though) AND crossover substance too. But the median buyer doesn't want that, does he? He's happy with the style but does not want the content, and won't pay for it. He'll absolutely adore the look of the spare-wheel tyre mechanism, and at the same time fail to see that to like it is very much to accept as a trade-off whatever incumberance using it might entail.

    And you don't have a 'badge' that commands recognition in the wider Indian car public either, now, do you?

    It's no wonder Nagesh got sacked! Fiat/Nagesh don't have a clue, do they? They're trying to offer a Euro-spec crossover at desi prices, rather than a 'third-world-special-with-lipstick', how daft.

    So yeah, I guess Fiat should seek from now on to targetting the informed 'enthusiasts' only (with t-jets etc), such as they are and such as is their number, and perhaps trying to expand that segment of the market by innovative, 'educational' marketing.
    VIJENDRA SINGH and asimpleson like this.
  8. acechip

    acechip Superiore

    Well, its a case of Fiat India's lack of competence and Fiat Spa's lack of cognizance of the Indian customer. The Honda/Suzuki/Hyundai, of course, do give the Indian market a certain amount of visibility, and importance, more so than even lets say, Toyota. Even if they offer "third-world" kitsch styling as you put it. The Indian customer is quite aware of this.

    I would have sympathized with Fiat if they had really offered "euro-spec" models, which include full safety kit. As things stand, they are falling behind in the whole safety image stakes as even VW and Toyota have greater bragging rights in this area. In any case, Fiat is selling 700 units a month. Why not sell all of them with ABS and Airbags? Atleast they will live up their reputation in the eyes of their enthusiasts.
  9. asimpleson

    asimpleson Esperto

    Linea 1.3
    Yes no reason why they cannot manage that decent cost cutting elsewhere to accommodate safety features, if they can manage to come up with a complete model like "Viaggio" or "Ottimo-Great" for Chinese market. Freemont is also exported? along with 500 to China. So a similar line-up plan for India too in near future ?

    And again the MARKETING needs a complete reformat.
    prabhjot likes this.
  10. Raj_pol

    Raj_pol Regolare

    Punto Evo 1.3
    Exactly my point - neither here nor there. Fiat is neither the best in terms of safety nor do they have genuinely powerful diesels or petrol. The MJD is a workhorse and an excellent one but really enthusiast - maybe not. I will not say anything about the FIRE - enough said already. So all said and done - have just two versions both fully loaded with safety and the top one with the rear view cam, ICE, better speakers etc.

    Can't do worse than 700/month.

    p.s. In fact they should have one of what I call a naked version. A T_JET punto with full safety and everything else removed including speakers, alloys, any fancy stuff. Sell it for as low a price as possible and see if it can get some more footfalls.
    asimpleson and dadasaheb like this.

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