I have this smashing line that impresses many people and also gives them a vague idea that I have a profound insight into the Indian automotive business. And it especially works when ad agency types come to seek my opinion on the industry before they make a pitch to get the carmaker's communication business. I tell them: If there are two brands in India – and I mean all sorts of brands across categories – that people are passionate enough to tattoo their bodies with their logos, it is Fiat and Royal Enfield. The believers will willingly wear their passion for these two brands on their skin. But, especially in case of Fiat, that does not translate into market success, unfortunately. Here is a brand that has a bunch of hardcore fans that no Hyundai or Honda can summon, but despite its presence in India for so many years, sells a fraction of what either of do. I am sure Hyundai or Honda - or for that matter, any other car brand - will give a suspension arm or some other body part to get that kind of a fan following. So what ails Fiat in India? It certainly can't be the Premier heritage; that excuse was valid a decade back. Not anymore. So is it the product? Well, according to many people, and not just blind enthusiasts, Fiat cars hit the right spots when it comes to design, dynamics and solidity. They also have decent level of kit and are pretty good value for money. Both the Punto and Linea are successful in Europe but in India, despite having a killer diesel engine, don't exactly fly out of showroom windows. There are several reasons why Fiat hasn't done well. One, they may make a beautiful product, but I doubt it if the people who build them at Ranjangaon give it the kind of attention other manufacturers give to their products. Other carmakers say quality, quality, quality – so much so that its ingrained into the system right down to the worker on the assembly line. I wonder if Fiat does that. Consequently, there are niggles that Fiat owners face: something is coming apart or someone's AC refuses to chill. And then the owner takes it to the service centre, where he is let down again. The problem is either not resolved or the service is lackadaisical. Then of course there is the legendary deal between Tata and Fiat; if you go to buy a Fiat, the salesman tries pushing a Vista instead. Essentially, a Fiat is desirable, but there is no guarantee of peace of mind to the prospective owner. Many of our Which Car? questions echo this sentiment: 'I'd like to buy a Fiat, but I am worried about sales and service.' Today, no carmaker can afford to make cars that are unreliable and create dissatisfaction with the ownership experience. By doing so, Fiat is giving its customers away to its competitors, who are aggressive, make reliable and efficient cars, make the owner feel good about his decision, and when the time comes to replace his car, give him full value for the investment he made a few years back. Whenever we have a comparison between cars in the respective segments, people comment on these very pages: What, no Punto?! What, no Linea?! We say: What's the point? Even if we look at product vs product and a Fiat wins, will the reader go out and buy it? Even if we say that Fiat is trying hard to get its act together? This uncertainty in the mind of the prospective customer is proving to be too costly for Fiat and if they are serious about doing business in India, they should remove this uncertainty. Merely giving a bottle of champagne free to anybody who buys a Linea is not going to do the trick. The hangover starts once the champagne bottle is empty. Fiat should pay attention to the cars it makes. It cannot afford to be complacent about quality. It needs to radically overhaul its distribution network. It needs to make the ownership experience flawless. It needs to keep the customer away from the service centre as far as possible. And this is all hard work and a change in mindset – the Italians could learn a thing or two from the Japanese and the Koreans. I love Fiats. Even today, a Punto turns my head – no other hatchback does that. And the T-Jet is a hoot to drive. But will I put my money on either of them? Fiat should be earnest and try really hard to convince me to do so. And a host of other Indians who would willingly tattoo that beautiful logo on their arms but won't put their money on the cars. Link:Fiathful?