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Q&A: Rajeev Kapoor, President & CEO, Fiat India

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Rajeev KapoorThough a late re-entry into the growing automobile market, Fiat India Automobiles Ltd hopes to establish itself across all segments with a wide range of products and service network, says its president and CEO, Rajeev Kapoor, in an interview with Yogima Seth Sharma. Edited excerpts:

Fiat has brought in two good products in the Indian market but sales are yet to match industry levels. How do you plan to cope?
The basic principle of forming a joint venture with Tata Motors was to bring back the Fiat brand into India and share the Fiat engine technology with Tata Motors. Now that we have achieved both, I think it’s the right time for us to grow in India.

With Grande Punto, Fiat Linea and Fiat 500 in our product stable, we hope to almost double our sales in the country in 2010-11 at 40,000 to 45,000 units, as compared to 23,000 units in 2009-10.

What do you think are the strengths of Fiat in India?
Though we currently have just two models, along with Fiat 500, there are varied engine options across Punto and Linea that help us to cater to a wide spectrum of people. Our spare parts are not just easily available, they are also competitively priced, and Fiat India now has a widespread presence through 175 dealerships.

What are your expansion plans over the next two years?
We are adding another high-end variant of Linea later this year, over and above the high-powered diesel variant of the Grande Punto launched recently.

Our new small car, smaller than the Punto and powered by a 1.0-litre engine, would hit in 2012 and we expect it to be a volume product for the company. Our dealer network will touch 200 by the end of 2010-11 and over a period of time, localisation levels of Punto and Linea are expected to go up from 85 per cent now to 90 per cent, as we strengthen our vendor base.

What has been the progress on your small car?
We have just concluded our customer survey to understand what kind of car they expect in 2012. The product is being jointly developed by our research and development team in India and in Italy. While the styling and designing of the car is being done in Italy, our Indian operation will contribute in component aggregates and reliability test of the vehicle.

How do you see the new small car changing the image of Fiat in India?
The A+ or the B segment, where we have cars like Spark, Santro, etc, is growing very fast in India. In fact, it is a highly cluttered segment, with almost every player present. Despite this, I feel there is space for more to come in, primarily because of extremely low car penetration levels in the country.

Fiat’s ability to make high-tech products and sell these at highly competitive prices as we go down the price ladder will help us to regain our position in India.