Fiat Auto South Africa outlines plans for 2006

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Giorgio Gorelli, Managing Director of Fiat Auto South Africa, has unveiled plans concerning the future of the local company. As of December 2005 Fiat Auto South Africa officially merged with Fiat Auto Brazil to become part of the Brazil-South Africa ‘Pole’.

Mr Gorelli explained that, “this is a wonderful opportunity for our company as we will be able to tap into the expertise and experience of our Brazilian colleagues who are market leaders with a clear market share of 25 percent.”

He also pointed out that the scale of the Brazilian operation will afford Fiat Auto South Africa many additional benefits: “Having a direct link with such a huge automaker that produces in excess of 500 000 vehicles annually (almost the total car market for South Africa) will not only give us an advantage when it comes to spare parts service and technical support, but the synergies in terms of marketing and general activities will be invaluable.”

Mr Gorelli concedes that 2005 was a challenging year for Fiat Auto South Africa. Product range, product quality, customer satisfaction, dealer satisfaction, brand image and willingness to re-purchase were all areas that required attention.

“We had to take drastic action and intervene in many areas; changing procedures, systems (eg parts) and – in some cases – organization, in order to increase our capacity to operate and to react to dealer and customer demands.

“A major change like this is bound to cause temporary problems but I am pleased to say that we’re over most of our hiccups and a solid platform for growth has now been provided.

“It’s never easy to change a negative situation, and we are very aware of the amount of work that we still have to do in order to exceed expectations in the various fields, but we are also confident given that the first results which have come through are very positive indeed”, Gorelli said.

“Our product offensive has surprised many, and we will continue this trend with fresh product that we plan to bring to market in 2006. We were known as ‘the Uno, and the Palio’ company, whereas now we are in the position to challenge competitors in many areas of the market and we not finished.

“Alongside the ‘pillars’ of our brand – Palio II and Siena – we launched a number of significant models in 2005 including the Panda (car of the Year in Europe), Strada (outsells the competition in Brazil by three to one), the Croma (5 Star EuroNCAP) and the Ducato Minibus (a leader in Europe).

“In 2006 with the introduction of the Grande Punto and the Sedici (an all-new midi SUV) as well as some other very interesting new models, we will definitely become a reference in all the strategic areas of the market.

The investment in our future has been relevant and we will continue with even more determination in 2006, with the goal to become a benchmark in terms of being a company that is easy to do business with, is swift to react to market forces and shows a willingness to fully meet its customers’ expectations”, Mr Gorelli said.