The new Fiat Viaggio will start production on June 28 at a new plant in the Changsha Economic Zone in Hunan province. Viaggio, which is Italian for journey, will be the first product of GAC Fiat Automobile, the 50-50 joint venture between Fiat and China's Guangzhou Automobile Group.
Jack Cheng, Fiat China boss and GAC Fiat general manager, is confident that Fiat will be successful this time in China with the help of products like the new Viaggio. He described the Viaggio as “an Alfa Romeo Giulietta” that could be bought with a Fiat price. The Viaggio is actually a reworked version of the Dodge Dart, which is based on the Giulietta.
The official price hasn’t been announced yet. Fiat has set a target for sales to reach 20,000 Viaggio units in 2012 and 100,000 units in 2013. Last year, fewer than 2,000 vehicles were sold by Fiat in China.
Right now isn’t a very good time for Fiat to embark on another campaign in China. The demand is weakening in China after several years of new-car sales rising by double digits.
This is due to more expensive fuel and a slowing economy. While the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers is still optimistic that new-car sales will increase by 8% in 2012, it realizes that it’s possible that full-year new-car sales growth rate will become negative.
But if this does happen, the total passenger-car market would still be around 13 million units. Cheng admitted that Fiat and Guangzhou have yet to decide the Viaggio's price. However, he confirmed that the model will go up against the Chevrolet Cruze, as well as the Volkswagen Lavida and Sagitar.
These models have a starting price of between 120,000 yuan and 130,000 yuan (about 14,400 euros to 15,600 euros). Even if the Viaggio has a comparable price, it would still be much more affordable than the Fiat 500 minicar in China.