Italy’s truckers strike hits Fiat Panda launch

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 25, 2012

A truckers' strike in Turin has had a big impact on the vehicle distribution in Italy, hampering Fiat’s launch of its crucial new-generation Panda minicar. Fiat’s factory in Pomigliano d'Arco, near Naples, will halt the production of the Panda on March 26 and 27. There was also no Panda output on March 16-19. A spokesman told Automotive News Europe that the lost volume due to these stoppages amounted to about 2,800 units.

Market researcher JATO Dynamics said that the Panda is Fiat's topselling car with a volume of 30,705 units after two months. Fiat expected the new Panda to give it a boost this year. Initially, the demand had been strong.

Fiat said that 40,000 dealer orders for the new minicar have been received since its debut in late January. The strike, which began Feb. 20 in protest of the Italian government's austerity measures and the rising fuel prices, has made transporting these cars to dealers an almost impossible task. Fiat said that due to the strike, its total production in Italy fell by 20,000 vehicles.

Fiat anticipates that its market share in Europe will drop to 6.5 percent in March from 7.2 percent in February. In a statement, Fiat said there’s no end seen yet for the strike and that the situation is getting worse as there’s more violence and aggression.

In an interview by Automotive News Europe, Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, president of Rome-based Italian dealer association Federauto, said that strikers are even preventing dealers who have their own car haulers from picking up cars that have already been sold.

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