The debut of Fiat’s Viaggio compact sedan will be at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show. This is the first model to be produced by Fiat's joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group. It will be launched in the market before the end of 2012 while production starts in July. The success of this model is crucial as it has a major role in Fiat’s plan to expand beyond Europe as auto sales in this market are likely to drop for the fifth straight year.
Fiat seeks to increase sales in China to 300,000 by 2014 from having sold less than 1,500 in 2011. So far, Fiat had not been able to establish itself in China (the world's largest auto market), which is likely to increase by 8% more in 2012 and reach 14 million units by 2014. Since the failure of its joint venture with Nanjing Automotive, no Fiat models had been made in China.
The Viaggio (which means ‘journey’ in Italian) is a rebadged version of the Dodge Dart based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The Viaggio has a length of 4670mm and a width of 1830mm, making it comparable to the size of the Ford Focus sedan available in central and eastern Europe, Russia and China.
Fiat S.p.A. is the owner of Alfa and it has a 58.5% stake in Dodge parent Chrysler Group, which will start its output of the North American version of Dart at its U.S. plant in Belvidere, Illinois, next month.
The Viaggio will be built at Fiat and Guangzhou Auto's new factory in the Changsha Economic Zone in Hunan province. Initially, an annual capacity of 140,000 vehicles had been planned. However, this figure is expected to rise quickly to 250,000. In China, the Viaggio would be powered by locally built normally aspirated and turbocharged versions of Fiat's 1.4-liter gasoline engine.
Fiat and Guangzhou's joint venture powertrain plant, which is located in the Changsha Economic Zone too, is predicted to have an initial volume of 220,000 engines annually. In addition, Fiat intends to launch a hatchback version of the Viaggio in China. This car will be exported to Europe as the replacement of the slow-selling Bravo compact hatchback, according to an Automotive News Europe that cited sources.