Fiat relying on fleets for growth, new Commercial Director insists

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:09
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BOOST: New 500L Trekking aimed at fleets

Growth at Fiat is reliant on a strong fleet performance, the company’s new Commercial Director has claimed.

Speaking at the launch of the Fiat 500L Trekking, Karl Howkins told headlineauto he saw the business market as key for the new addition.

Fiat are enjoying a very strong retail performance, but the company’s fleet sale ratio of 34% is well below the industry average.

However, Mr Howkins said the biggest scope for the 500L was in the rental and Motability markets.

“If it makes sense, we’ll do it,” he said.

“If it doesn’t make sense we won’t do it.

“There is a lot of good fleet business out there.”

Mr Howkins joined Fiat last month after 25 years at General Motors.

His previous posting was a two-and-a-half year stint as Managing Director of Opel in Holland.

“I like a challenge, and Fiat is a challenge, but it has great product coming,” he said.

“You can be the best salesman in the world but you need the products to sell.

“But you need product to have fleet sales and we now have B, C and SUV segment vehicles.”

Mr Howkins’ remit covers all six Fiat Group brands and he acknowledges the company needs to do better with Alfa Romeo.

However, he insists they will – the new Giulietta, Mito facelift and 4C are on the horizon and a new sports car is being developed with Mazda.

Fiat’s new man also pointed to the company’s 22% year-on-year rise in June sales as one reason for his optimism.

The 500L is winning new customers to the brand and is now the third best-seller in its segment.

Meanwhile, the 500 has outsold MINI for five of the first six months this year and only lost out in June by 50 sales.

Next month comes the 500L MPW which is 20cms longer than the 500L but about 20cms shorter than the average station wagon in this segment.

Fiat describe the car as being the link between MPV and estates.

It is the most compact seven-seater on the market, boasting the best interior-exterior ratio.

Additional reporting by headlineauto, with thanks.

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