Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The European Invasion: Ford vs FIAT

The European Invasion has Begun

It is really happening.  The dream every car enthusiast has had about getting the forbidden cars from Europe has come true.  This invasion has taken place in a couple different ways.  Just about every single Ford car, except for the Mustang and Taurus, is a European vehicle.  On top that that we have the new Kuga as the Escape.  Ford recognized the products offered by their European counterparts were very compelling.  This transition was done with a lot of global planning and careful execution.

FIAT on the other hand, has been getting their products into the US as a result of their acquisition of Chrysler.  Therefore, we see the FIAT 500, 500L, Dodge Dart, and Jeep Cherokee.  Unfortunately, most of these products have had some challenges in the marketplace.  The FIAT 500 had a botched launch because of the head of marketing thought it would be a great idea to make Jennifer Lopez the face of the new ITALIAN brand.  The 500L is a nicely packaged vehicle, but has been criticised for it's styling and recent recall for the dual clutch automatic.  The slow selling Dart, which is a US version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, just laid off 325 workers due to lack of demand.  The Jeep Cherokee was just released and is apparently turning in some decent sales figures.

You can go down to your local Ford or Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/FIAT dealer, and pick up the European vehicle of your dreams.  At this time, it appears that Ford's plan has been much more successful.  In February the Fusion was ranked 8th, Escape 9th, and Focus 18th in terms of best selling vehicles in America.  That is not too bad for a 3 vehicles with Euro pedigrees.

The next Euro launch for Chrysler that gives me pause is the new 200.  This vehicle is a midsized sedan, based on a larger Dart platform, and happens to be smaller than the Fusion and other leading mid-sized vehicles.  The dimensions of vehicles in the mid-size segment have been growing.  The competition is always looking for more rear passenger space, and Chrysler is launching a smaller car.  Not unlike the current 200.

It seems that Ford has done a lot of research to make sure their vehicles are winners on both sides of the Atlantic.  Chrysler on the other hand seems to be having trouble with everything except the Cherokee.

One of the known behaviors of car enthusiasts is that they champion European vehicles, and declare the vehicles should be sold in America.  When the vehicles are sold over here, the vocal enthusiasts do not put their money where their mouth is.  Ford on the other hand, has released a nice lineup of Euro vehicles that are a nice stylish evolution of the previous vehicles.  This has helped Ford stay ahead of the pack.

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