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Fiat models to strut car-walk
( 2002-06-10 10:39 ) (1 )

Italian carmaker Fiat Auto SpA plans to introduce three new models into its passenger car joint venture in China by the end of next year, according to a company executive.

Flavio Ciappa, head of Fiat Auto's China operation, said the plan is part of the company's efforts to become one of the major compact car manufacturers in China.

However, he did not reveal the specific models to be introduced in the joint venture with Fiat Auto's Chinese partner Yuejin Automotive Group based in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province.

The joint venture is currently producing Fiat's Palio compact cars.

"The growth of passenger car output in China by 2005 will focus on compact cars suitable for Chinese families covering models priced between 80,000 yuan (US$9,700) and 140,000 yuan (US$16,900)," Ciappa said.

He predicted passenger car output in China will reach 1.3 million units by 2005.

The output is expected to increase to 800,000 units this year from 720,000 last year, he said.

Ciappa made the remarks at a forum during the ongoing Seventh Beijing International Auto Show (Auto China 2002), to end on June 13.

The joint venture, named Nanjing Fiat Automobile Co, launched a 1.3-litre Palio compact car on the market during Auto China 2002.

The US$361-million joint venture began producing the 1.5-litre Palio at the end of January.

Prices of the Palios range from 84,900 yuan (US$10,300) to 109,900 yuan (US$13,300), the company said.

Analysts claim the Palios will be strong competitors on the Chinese compact car market alongside Buick Sail of Shanghai General Motor, Xiali 2000 of Tianjin Automotive Industry Corp and Polo of Shanghai Volkswagen.

Fiat Auto said it has achieved global sales of more than 2 million Palios since 1997 when the model was first launched.

According to the company, it now produces the Palio in nine countries, including China.

Ciappa, on the eve of Auto China 2002, said Nanjing Fiat Automobile Co will have 80 dealers by June next year nationwide.

So far, the joint venture has developed 23 sales and service stations.

According to Mao Xiaoming, general manager of Nanjing Fiat, the company has delivered more than 3,000 Palios to customers so far this year.

Nanjing Fiat Automobile Co, which has built up an annual production capacity of 60,000 units, also produces Eagle and Unique small cars.

Fiat Auto and Nanjing Fiat joined hands to participate in Auto China 2002, displaying five models -- Palio, Alfa156, Stilo, Multipla and Doblo.



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