“We Need To Work On Many Areas To Regain Customer Trust”

40 (4)Enrico Atanasio, Managing Director, Fiat Group India Automobiles Private Limited, speaks about his company’s initiatives and strategy to build its business in India again

Fiat had the early mover advantage in the country but its sales numbers do not match with this fact. What initiatives are being taken by the company to revive sales and put the company back on track? Enrico Atanasio (EA): The separation of Fiat from the Tata network was announced in April last year. So from April to December there was some kind of uncertainty and inconsistency regarding our position in the market. Our loyal customers were worried about certain issues related to Fiat dealership and our service centres. Who will service my car and which dealer should I go to? – these were the kind of questions uppermost in the minds of our customers.

Currently, we are trying to address those questions. To resolve such issues we have divided our strategies into phases. And there are three phases in total. In the first phase we would be opening 65 dealerships till March 2013. In the seond phase we plan to reach the 100 dealership mark by the end of this year. In phase III we would be launching new cars to ramp up our product portfolio. But putting these strategies in place involves working on a process, which will take time to fructify. So we are expecting 2013 to be a year of our transition.

We are now opening our own dedicated dealerships. Dedicated dealers help in bringing to the fore the credibility and presence of the brand in the market. Until a car manufacturer shows serious commitment towards the consumer it cannot expect consumers to evince an interest in the brand. But as a result of the current initiatives that we are working on, we are expecting some lift in the sales numbers by March. At the same time we are also prepared for the eventuality that sales might not perk up at an appreciable rate over the next few months. So we need to regain the lost customer trust and work in the areas where we have not been present so far. B&E: How will you re-align your distribution network now that Fiat has parted ways with the Tatas? EA: The thrust of our strategy is to revive the dealership network. Having a good dealership is critical to our line of business so that the right service levels are accessible to customers. We are looking for good entrepreneurs who can communicate the value proposition of Brand Fiat. In Hyderabad, we opened our first dealership as part of the Fiat-Tata network. But the average number of our cars sold per month remained very low. After the dissolution of the dealership alliance with Tata Motors, this dealer has remained with us and now operates an exclusive Fiat dealership. As a result people have started seeing only the Fiat brand at this dealer’s, which shows the dealership’s dedication towards the brand. Since this change came into effect, this particular delaer has started selling 30 cars per month. We want this kind of improvement to take place in our other dealerships as well. B&E: What new products will you introduce to expand your portfolio? EA: In 2014, we would be launching a new car in the C segment. We are also looking to launch the Jeep brand in India. Over the next few years, we would be introducing nine new refreshed models by Fiat and the Jeep brand. The first of these would be the Jeep Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee, which will be imported towards the end of 2013.