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Chrysler CEO: 'Jims a poor investment'

2013-10-24 19:48

‘JIMS DOESN’T SELL CARS’: Chrysler SA CEO Trent Barcroft (inset) doesn’t believe that the Johannesburg motor show offers any value for Fiat, hence its absence at the 2013 event. Image: WHEELS24/CHRYSLER SA

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In response to a Wheels24 reader's comment regarding the new Fiat 500L, Trent Barcroft, CEO of Fiat SA, claimed the Johannesburg motor show was "a poor investment". The automaker did not attend the 2013 event. Attack on Jims or voicing what many automakers are thinking?

In October 2013, Wheels24 reported on Fiat launching its funky 500L in South Africa. When Fiat updated its classic Cinquecento in the form of its funky, retro 500 a relieved Fiat found itself with a best-seller. Despite its steep price and minimal functionality, its great looks and trendy interior made it a hit with twentysomethings.

2013 Fiat 500 image gallery

FIAT 500L IN SA

Fiat realised that the trendy hipsters who purchased a 500 years ago had since grown up and became in need of a vehicle to transport children. With this in mind, the automaker transformed its cheeky 500 into a chunky, albeit chic, MPV - the Fiat 500L.

The new model is available locally with two engine (1.4 petrol and 1.6 diesel) and trim (Easy and Lounge) options.

'THEY'RE NOT EVEN AT THE SHOW'

Earlier in October 2013, Wheels24 reader Edward Strydom commented on our "Fiat SA launches big daddy 500L" article: "Fiat SA is making the very same mistake they did with the launch of the 500 back in the day. It's way over priced.

"Think about this, you can buy a Focus diesel poweshift or the likes for the same price as this diesel 500L. Don't they learn or do any research? Also, if this car was so important for Fiat SA, why did they not bother with a launch at Jims? They are not even at the show in 2013.

"Perhaps Fiat SA need to fix the local management once and for all. Having owned a Fiat before, they are awesome little cars and deserve more success. Alas."

MONEY BETTER SPENT ELSEWHERE

In reply, Barcroft read our story and commented: "Edward, Trent Barcroft, CEO of Fiat SA here. Interesting comments but you really fail to understand the auto business. Jims is a poor investment, it does not sell cars but rather absorbs millions of Rands in marketing budget that is better spent on media and in promoting visiting a showroom, where one may test drive our products.

"As for pricing, please have a look at the value proposition, high spec level and full maintenance/warranty included with the vehicle. I invite you to stop by your local Fiat dealer and have a first hand look at the 500L. Take a test drive. It is a great car with tons of value and appeal!"

Wheels24 asked the Jozi motor show PR people for their reaction to Barcroft's plain speaking but they had not responded by our hometime. We'll get back to you on that, but meanwhile some readers responded to Barcroft's comment:

Igota Bigbala said: "Trent, Edward's point is that Fiat does not have a reputation for perceived reliability and good resale value. These pereceptions are based on the historical performance of Fiat SA and that quite a few of Fiats products and service was crap.

"They may be reliable now but you need to price it correctly to have people seriously consider buying them. Fiats may come fully loaded but whats the use of all these standard features if the engine etc. is antiquated. You guys are making the same mistake as GMSA with opel."

"Why would anyone pay more than 200 grand for a Fiat. Rather buy an Audi A1."

Henning Pantke said: "Hi Trent, I agree with your comments. Seems that a lot of people only judge things at face value. Firstly, why compare a Focus to a 500L? Then, my other commentators, pricing is very important. Trust me, everyone wants to sell their cars dirt cheap but reality is that in business we need to make money to be sustainable.

"With sustainability, I mean generate enough cash to invest back into research and development, employ the best in the industry etc etc. Also, the full maintenance plans and warranties cost money. Yes, they might be free for you the driver, but for the manufacturer, they still cost money. That is factored into the price."

Slowboat said: "Igota, people pay millions for Fiats without batting an eye, they're called Ferraris and Maseratis..."

Do you agree with Barcroft's sentiments? Do any automakers wish to respond? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

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