Dubai: Chrysler knows a thing or two about making that perfect emotion-heavy marketing pitch. If proof were needed, look no further than the two spots that aired during the recent Super Bowl. And the cars didn’t even get a look-in.
But when it comes to the Middle East, the carmaker — or the Fiat Chrysler Group to be precise — is letting its models do all the talking. It closed last year in record territory with 25,320 units and sales driven principally by the Jeep and Dodge range. There were also gains for the top-of-the line sedan 300C.
But starting this year, the Group wants to get more out of the Fiat and Alfa Romeo line-ups from these markets. Alfredo Altavilla, chief operating officer Europe, Africa & Middle East and a member of the 2009 Fiat team that negotiated with the Obama administration to buy a stake in Chrysler, has the plan to carry it through.
Gulf News: Why not focus on Chrysler instead of trying to get more out of Fiat or Alfa Romeo?
Alfredo Altavilla: While Chrysler has traditionally exploited its presence in the region, Fiat has lagged behind the rest of the competition. This region will have an important role for Fiat Chrysler going forward. It is one of the few growing markets for the automobile industry and as such needs the attention from the organisation.
Have you fixed the schedule for the new model rollout?
A month ago, we launched the Alfa Romeo brand in the Middle East with Alfa Romeo Giuletta TCT. It should mark the brand’s renaissance in the region. It was important to get this launch done to develop a regional network for Alfa Romeo and be ready when the flow of new products will hit the market.
In Geneva, we will start with the 4C, where the whole chassis is in carbon fibre and which you get to see only in €300,000 (Dh1.45 million) Ferrari models. But the Alfa Romeo 4C will be priced extremely competitive at €50,000-60,000.
The Alfa Romeo region network will look different from what it is today and there is a commitment to deliver a new model within a year of starting production.
Next year there will be an Alfa Romeo sedan, which will compete in the E segment against a BMW 5 or Audi 6. There is to be a crossover in the near future and in three years, the line up will comparable with any German premium brand.
Is this a push to get more from the premium niche?
This is a key pillar of Fiat Chrysler as a company. We decided to reposition our luxury brands and get them to compete with others, particularly German makes.
There are three brands we have which are truly global — Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. While Jeep has got a phenomenal line-up, which will be expanded with the addition of two new cars this year, Maserati and Alfa Romeo were missing the right products to compete.
We will be launching the Maserati Ghibli in June and by 2015, the ambition is to target 50,000 units from the 6,000 units Maserati had last year.
Where does the Fiat fit into the Middle East plans?
The expansion of Fiat will be driven by the 500 family and supported by a totally new product strategy.
Is Jeep what Fiat Chrysler will be built on in this region?
Since 2009, it was our strategy to create a completely new line-up of Chrysler, Dodge and RAM models. Fiat Chrysler was the fastest growing automotive brand in the region last year with 66 per cent against the market increase of 25 per cent. This was important in terms of gaining market share.
It is reasonable to assume we can touch 33,000 to 35,000 units in a market growing at 5 to 10 per cent over 2012.