Following a consistently strong sales performance throughout 2006, Italian auto maker, Fiat, has confirmed its position as the fastest growing automotive brand in the UK, with annual sales of 58,831 units - up by over 64% year-on-year - in a market down by 3.9% over the same period.
In percentage terms, the company's 2006 market share stands at 2.51%, compared with 1.47% (35,828 units) the previous year.
Led by the huge success of the company's stylish new Grande Punto, which went on sale here at the beginning of 2006 to widespread acclaim, Fiat's performance in this sector of the market (B-segment), has been particularly noteworthy, and despite a number of key product introductions from competitors, only Fiat's Punto has exhibited dramatic growth - 140% year-on-year.
Fiat Auto's UK breakthrough has also been assisted by factors such as the steadily increasing penetration of its expanding Panda range in A-segment (over 9500 units compared to 8900 in 2005), and the arrival of the new Sedici 4WD SUV, latterly with a MultiJet diesel option.
"Obviously the Fiat team in the UK is pleased to have achieved the goals we set ourselves for 2006" says Giulio Salomone, managing director of Fiat Auto UK, "but we will be working hard to consolidate the relaunch of our brand in the UK, with some additions to our Grande Punto range, and with the launch of our fantastic new Bravo here this summer, along with key priorities, such as network development, customer satisfaction, business sales and the internet; as we prepare for the introduction of our stunning new baby, the Cinquecento, early in 2008. This iconic car is already beginning to capture the public's imagination, and I am certain it will play a key role in taking our brand to another level.
"Customer awareness of our company is rising rapidly, and our latest TV advertising with Grande Punto reflects the younger buyer profile we are attracting."
Fiat Auto UK's successful 2006 has produced media awards for both Grande Punto (Scottish Small Car of the Year and Autocar magazine's Design Award), Panda ( Auto Express City Car of the Year), and Sedici (a Towcar of the Year and Planet 4x4 magazine category winner), but the company has also laid the foundations for significant improvements in its customer service, and is working with J.D. Power on a bespoke Customer Contact Programme which is now in its seventh month of operation.
"We have worked hard to achieve our 2006 result," says Giulio Salomone, "but we have many more challenges ahead of us, and in 2007 we shall be closely focused on our dealers and on the service we offer to our customers, along with the launch of our fantastic new Bravo in the summer."Published 10 January 2007