Aug 28, 2012
Chrysler CEO mulls B-segment SUV, pick-up entries, as well as Fiat revivalBack
Africa|Chrysler South Africa|Engines|Fiat|Africa|South Africa|United States|Building|Butter Product|Launched Products|Product|Products|Trent Barcroft|Fiat 500|Jeep|Jeep Wrangler|Operations|Panda|Punto|South Africa
© Reuse this
“This year we hope for anything north of 9 500 units. The sales high point for us was in 2001 at around 7 950 units. Last year we sold around 7 500 vehicles.”
While Barcroft regards the current momentum as “pretty good”, he wants more.
“The opportunity definitely exists to sell more.”
Barcroft says newly launched products, such as the 300C sedan and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 will all help to keep on pushing numbers upwards.
“The full-size sports-utility vehicle (SUV) is really our bread and butter product. The Jeep brand is our volume spinner. We sell every Grand Cherokee and Compass we can get our hands on.”
Jeep Wrangler sales have also doubled since last year, aided by factors such as improved quality, new engines and some fresh colours.
Barcroft also contributes Chrysler’s growth to offering “value for money vehicles” which do not offer “a lot of options at extra cost”.
“We simplified the range and it worked.”
Looking to the future, Barcroft says there is a small, B-segment Jeep SUV coming to the global market “in the long term”. This vehicle will also find its way to South Africa.
“A B-segment SUV will open the South African market for us,” he notes.
He says the B-segment numbers around 100 000-unit sales a year in South Africa, with few SUV players active in this part of the market.
“I would also love to play in the half-ton and one-ton pick-up market. Dodge knows how to built trucks,” adds Barcroft. “This is on the top of my list when I have discussions with my principals.”
In South Africa, however, Fiat is more the straggler than its American sibling. Early in the 2000s Fiat sold “10 000, 11 000 units a year,” says Barcroft, who earlier this year was also appointed as Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa CEO.
Current sales are roughly half that, with Fiat expected to move around 5 000 units this year.
Barcroft would like to change this.
“Fiat’s product range is not massive – it shrank quite a bit – and there is formidable competition out there. But, there is the opportunity for a bigger slice of the pie. There is great opportunity to unlock Fiat’s potential.”
Barcroft says it is possible for Fiat products to garner more attention, for the brand to streamline its range, to sell through more dealers, and for Alfa to make a strong comeback, especially as there still exists a “lot of nostalgia” for this badge in South Africa.
“Fiat is in a segment of the market Chrysler never played in. When we look at the range, I think we can streamline the offering. We do not need a range that cover every inch of the B- and C-segment with every model iteration possible.”
Barcroft also regards Fiat light commercial vans – the Fiorino, Doblo and Ducato – as “hidden gems” that are underpresented in sales.
The Fiat half-ton pickup, the Strada, is, of course, a thing of the past as the new model is not available in a right-hand drive version, as “costs to do this are too high”.
Barcroft says the Fiat 500 and Punto will soon have facelifts, and the new Panda is also on its way.
Looking at dealer networks, Barcroft notes that Chrysler currently has 41 dealers, up from the recent 36.
“We added some new outlets from the middle of last year. We needed to touch the market more effectively.”
Several of the new dealerships were outside major cities, such as Ermelo, with product “absolutely flying”.
Fiat currently has 22 dealers, with two more opening in September. However, these will be combined Chrysler/Fiat dealers.
“Fiat needs more coverage and Chrysler can provide this,” says Barcroft.
As for the future of the two brands under one CEO, Barcroft says the companies will remain two entities, but that they will operate as one.
Fiat and Chrysler operations will then also move from their separate head offices into one new building, in Midrand, by the end of October.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Automotive News
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
Integrated energy and chemical company Sasol has partnered with Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) professor and founder and CEO of PanAvest Partnership Dr Douglas Boateng to publish a series of books on executive supply chain management aimed at...
The World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) 2014 Living Planet Index (LPI) indicates that there has been a 52% decline in vertebrate species since 1970. The Index tracked the trends of 10 000 discrete populations of over 3000 vertebrate species between 1970 and 2010.
Rwanda has joined a number of East African countries seeking to import electricity from Ethiopia as its demand grows. After it became apparent several generation project it is implementing will not come on stream early enough, now plans to import 400 MW from Ethiopia...
Metrorail’s first new passenger train will arrive in November next year, says Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) CEO Lucky Montana. “Next year we will be able to put our hands around the infrastructure and equipment we have been talking about for so long.”
The Competition Commission has launched an investigation into what it says are “price fixing, market division and collusive tendering in the market for the manufacture and supply of automotive components to original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs, or vehicle...