Fiat Mulls Low-Cost Sub-Brand

The Dacia Sandero (pictured) and Duster have been resounding successes for the Renault brand. But why should the Renault/Nissan alliance have all the fun?

According to a recently published report in Automotive News, Fiat is also said to be considering low-cost sub-brand to fill a space below its current models.

“We are wondering if there is space for a low-cost brand such as Dacia in the Fiat world,” CEO Sergio Marchionne told the industry title in Turin.

The new sub-brand would be a rival to Renault’s low-cost sub-brand and the soon to be revealed new vehicle from Nissan’s revived Datsun brand. In order to be viable, Fiat’s low-cost competitor would need to be manufactured and sold in markets outside of Europe.

According to the article, the Italian automaker has apparently been mulling the idea to create a low-cost brand for the last five years, but the business case hasn’t been strong enough to give it the green light.

If plans for the brand were ever to materialize, the automaker could revive the historic Innocenti nameplate, which was bought by Fiat in 1990. One of the cars built by Innocenti was a reincarnation of the British Mini designed by Bertone and launched in 1974. The company is also said to be considering more basic names such as ABC or 123, reinforcing the notion of a basic, no-frills product.

It’s no secret that Marchionne wants to move the Fiat brand upmarket. Profit margins are higher and the brand image would undoubtedly benefit in strong growth markets such as China and Russia.

German giant Volkswagen is also said to be looking at creating a sub-brand which could potentially be built in China. CEO Martin Winterkorn said the board could reach a decision this year.

As vehicles have grown to become increasingly larger, complex and expensive, the idea of creating a back-to-basics brand is a good one. We’ll just have to wait and see if Fiat decides to move forward with this plan.



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