Fiat Panda and Lancia Ypsilon Replacements Pushed Back for 2012

Following CEO Sergio Marchionne's comments at the 2010 Paris Motor Show (see here), Autonews Europe has uncovered new information regarding the Fiat Group's future product launches.

One of Fiat's most important models in Europe, the third generation Panda, was originally due in summer 2010 but its launch had already been pushed back to September 2011. Now, sources inside the company told the news site that the introduction of the small five-door hatchback will be further delayed until January 2012.

The third generation Lancia Ypsilon supermini has also been delayed more than two years, as have the replacements for the Fiat Idea / Lancia Musa small MPV twins and the Fiat Multipla 3+3 seater people carrier, which has been in production since 1998. The latter two launches were scheduled for December 2011 but have now been postponed until the second half of 2012.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne froze his company's spending in 2008 as the financial crisis hit Europe. Spending was set to return to normal this year, but has now been postponed indefinitely in light of what Marchionne perceives as an unimproved European new car market.

He now predicts a weaker Q1 2011 than Q1 2010, due to the ending of scrappage schemes in many European countries. The rest of 2011 is expected to be no better sale wise for Fiat, Marchionne predicts.

Analysts are predicting that Fiat's new car sales are likely to continue to decline without any new products; sales in Europe fell 13.9% to 723,356 vehicles in the first eight months of 2011 in a market that declined only 3.5%, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

Stuart Pearson, an auto analyst at Morgan Stanley in London, says: "Fiat is playing a dangerous game and by delaying key models risks missing any European Union recovery if they are wrong on the timing. Customers are only paying for brand new metal."

The report did not mention any plans on future Alfa Romeo cars.

By Tristan Hankins

Source: ANE [sub.req]

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