Abarth the re-birth!

Currently reading:
Abarth the re-birth!

Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
5,151
Location
Towcester, Northants
Fiat steps up a gear in drive to get Abarth on the road

By John Griffiths

Published: October 1 2007 03:00 | Last updated: October 1 2007 03:00

Fiat is preparing to relaunch the once-hallowed racing name of Abarth as its fifth brand after Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Fiat itself.

The italian carmaker is setting up an international network of dealers to offer high-performance versions of models such as the Fiat Grande Punto and new Cinquecento.

By 2010, the group should be preparing to launch specific Abarth models developed from the platforms - basic engineering structures - of others car in the group, Luca de Meo, marketing director, told the Financial Times in an interview yesterday.

The cars will bear only Abarth's distinctive red and yellow badge, overlaid by a black scorpion.

Fiat has spent €19m ($27m) developing the first, a high-powered version of the Grande Punto, which is about to go on sale in Italy for about €17,000. A similar version of the Cinquecento goes on sale next year.

Fiat has owned the Abarth brand since 1971. However, its serious financial problems, until its spectacular return to profitability in the past two years under Sergio Marchionne, chief executive, meant Abarth was largely unused in spite of Fiat being fully aware of its "heritage" brand potential.

"The problem was, when we were up to our backside in alligators, we couldn't afford to worry about scorpions as well," one Fiat executive said at the opening of Abarth's headquarters last week.

Mr de Meo said it was expected to sell 5,000 cars in the first year.

A significant proportion of revenue is expected to come, however, from the sale of high-performance conversion kits.

Fiat's research into the sales of such performance kits, which remains largely unexploited by carmakers, has concluded that the market is worth €12bn a year in Europe, where such sales are enjoying double-digit growth; €10bn a year in North America; and €4bn a year in Japan.

Most of this revenue goes to specialist independent suppliers. "Fiat has never really been part of it and we realised we wanted the opportunity to make money out of it," said Mr de Meo.

With profit margins in the sector up to three times that available from the sale of new cars, Abarth would become profitable within two to three years, he added.

Fiat is setting up a network of 35 Abarth dealers in Italy, with 60 more planned for the rest of Europe and some other markets, including Japan.

The Abarth brand will be launched in 12 countries this month, but Mr de Meo said it could be extended to many more - including China, where there is a booming market for small, high-performance cars and tuning.

Some 100 workshops and 40 specialised engine tuning centres are being set up in Italy tosell and install conversion and tuning kits and there are similar plans for other countries.

The rebirth of Abarth has been a priority for Mr de Meo since taking over as head of the Fiat brand more than two years ago.

He was recently appointed marketing director for the Fiat industrial group, including Iveco trucks, but will continue to oversee the Abarth name's future. "The big advantage for Fiat is that Abarth is a genuine heritage brand with a proud history so Fiat does not have to create anything. It was also already in-house, so we have only to exploit it."

Mr de Meo declined to say how much Fiat intended to invest in developing the brand over the next few years, but he said dealers were already investing enthusiastically in the separate showrooms that Fiat requires.

A separate Abarth manufacturing, design and management centre is being set up at Fiat's Mirafiori car plant. A flagship showroom has been built in central Turin, on the site of the original premises of Abarth's late founder, Austrian-born Carlo Abarth.

Fiat has been preparing the ground for Abarth's relaunch by entering cars in races and rally championships within Europe.

In the heyday of Abarth as an independent company in the 1950s and 60s, it was regarded with a similar level of respect as marques such as Maserati and Aston Martin by the international motor sport community.

Mr de Meo said Abarth was not expected to become as large a business as Fiat's Alfa Romeo or Lancia brands. Like Maserati, however, "we expect it to cast a halo effect across the whole company".

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
 

DanGil

New member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
875
Good, they've taken the **** out the name with body kits for long enought(y) . Get Lancia back over here and jobs a goodun.
 

thepottleflump

Shut Up, Fool!
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,905
Location
Surrey
I want to know when and where I can buy a GP Abarth Essesse, sounds great although the price tag could be as high as £20,000 from what I've read which seems a little on the steep side. Other articles indicate £16k-£17k.
 

Schwenck

Embrace depreciation...
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
1,122
Location
Basingrad
In a way you hope FIAT don't build it to a price, but do it properly and charge that bit extra. Then again, if they do it properly and use the huge sales of GPs, Pandas and 500s to subsidise each one - undercutting the rivals - that would be a result. Basically FIAT, just get the cars right, please!
 

Aidan

New member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
37
Location
Dumfries
Lancias werre wicked like, those Delta HF Integrales were brutally quick, believe me i've driven one and its really really scary(fun)
 

jug

blessed are the apostates
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Messages
27,935
Location
Durham
if abarth is going to be seen as anything more than a fiat with a few mods then the abarth brand must sell cars that are unique to that brand. for example a GP with a bodykit and more power is hardy going to create a new brand. a new car that looks nothing like a GP but is based on the GP platform is the minimum requirement to ensure it is not seen as a GP with a few mods. the GP and corsa are the same car but they are also different enough to be seen as different cars by consumers, an abarth branded car would need to be equally different to be recognised as a new brand.

remember when the MG badge was used on rovers with bodykits, it killed the MG badge. even a fool could see an MG was just a rebadged rover. such a stupid mistake, especially after the MGF did such a great job of getting the MG badge back in people's minds and single handedly relaunched the brand. i dont want to see abarth die a similar death.
 

H2DaE

Resident Hairdresser
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
4,394
Location
Hampshire/Surrey
But it works with VXR so why not Abarth? i mean the corsa vxr looks like a standard one driven through Halfords, at least the GP Abarth has a bit of class about it
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 4, 2004
Messages
16,617
Location
Watford
if abarth is going to be seen as anything more than a fiat with a few mods then the abarth brand must sell cars that are unique to that brand.
http://www.evo.co.uk/news/evonews/209680/fiat_abarth.html

abarth_coupe_concept-2.jpg

if they got the balls to put that into production...would be a massive leap in the right direction
 

jug

blessed are the apostates
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Messages
27,935
Location
Durham
But it works with VXR so why not Abarth? i mean the corsa vxr looks like a standard one driven through Halfords, at least the GP Abarth has a bit of class about it

VXR is not a brand, its just a model in the vauxhall range. abarth could do the same easily, but fiat's plans for abarth are very different. they want abarth to be a unique brand, for that to happen the GP abarth cant be called a GP or have a fiat badge on it. it must have an abarth badge on and be called something other than grande punto.

if we take the VXR example, imagine if the corsa VXR was not available from vauxhall and instead GM made a new brand called VXR. that VXR brand would release a car called the VXR excel (example name only). if the VXR excel looked like a corsa people would say it was a corsa VXR, which would mean the VXR brand had failed. if GM made the VXR excel different enough from a corsa that people did not think of it as a corsa then the VXR brand would succeed.

there is a big difference between a brand and a model. currently abarth isnt used as a brand or a model, its simply fiat accessories. a GP abarth would be a fiat brand and abarth model, thats different to the current abarth accessory role, however that is still not an abarth brand. if this report is correct then a GP abarth will never happen, instead it will be called an abarth 'something' and there will be no fiat or punto badges in sight. that is why it needs to be very different to the GP, if you only change the badge then you're 'doing an MG'.
 
Last edited:

thepottleflump

Shut Up, Fool!
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,905
Location
Surrey
As far as I know Abarth was never about making unique cars, it was always a tuning/racing company, taking other manufacturers cars and making them better and faster. Fiat would need to mad to go down that route when they got some good cars coming through and with the potential to make them serious hot.

MG failed because the cars they were tuning were ancient, great lets tune a Rover 75, only bought by people over 50 who aren't likely to buy a boy raced car, or how about noah's Rover 45. Horrible.

Judging by the pictures and the reviews I've read recently Fiat could be on to a winner again, the GP Abarth and GP Abarth Essesse look like a pair of very desirable cars, and the 500 Abarth will probably sell out within days of being put on the order books.
 

jug

blessed are the apostates
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Messages
27,935
Location
Durham
not in the past, but in the future abarth will only be unique cars, no more fiat add ons, just the abarth brand, same as alfa.

Fiat is preparing to relaunch the once-hallowed racing name of Abarth as its fifth brand after Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Fiat itself.

By 2010, the group should be preparing to launch specific Abarth models developed from the platforms - basic engineering structures - of others car in the group, Luca de Meo, marketing director, told the Financial Times in an interview yesterday.

The cars will bear only Abarth's distinctive red and yellow badge, overlaid by a black scorpion.

if they release the GP abarth with a fiat badge and GP badge it means the above quoted objective from Luca de Meo is not happening yet.

if fiat plan to go with a unique abarth brand in 2010 then why confuse people for a couple of years beforehand by releasing some fiats as abarth models?! that will only make it even more difficult for abarth to be seen as a unique brand in 2010.

imo they should not release the GP abarth, it should either be the GP HGT or the abarth 'something', or alternatively release the GP abarth but then forget about using abarth as a unique brand. they cant have it both ways.

the other issue this abarth brand creates is how the brands fit together as part of a coherent group strategy. the lancia relaunch plans made it clear that fiat would be shopping/family cars, alfa would be exclusive/executive cars and lancia would be solely used for anything remotely sporty (despite the objections from fiat and alfa fans). how does abarth fit into that without treading on lancia's feet?

the only way i can see it happening is if abarth become a unique brand but they only make their own versions of fiat group models (as suggested in the report). fiat, alfa and lancia cars would all be released as abarth versions. my only problem with that idea is, if a similarly specced fiat, alfa or lancia was available then whats the point of the abarth brand version? if the abarth brand goes ahead as planned i think the only real change will be fiat, alfa and lancia have the top of the range version of each of their models released under the abarth brand, but consumers will see through that because the cars wont be different enough to justify rebadging.
 
Last edited:

H2DaE

Resident Hairdresser
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
4,394
Location
Hampshire/Surrey
What about the Monaro VXR or VXR500 or whatever it's called now? That is only available in VXR guise...

VX220?
 

jug

blessed are the apostates
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Messages
27,935
Location
Durham
vxr / vxr500 is a monaro not a vxr. it is only available as a vxr, but it is not a vxr branded car. vxr is only the model.

you can get it badged as a vauxhall monaro vxr500, thats a vauxhall, not a vxr.

vx220 is a vauxhall not a vxr.

vxr is not a unique brand in the same way fiat plan to make abarth. monaro is a unique brand, owned by GM. in the same way abarth will become a unique brand, owned by fiat spa. you cant buy a vxr branded car, but you will be able to buy an abarth branded car in a few years, and it will only be a fiat as much as an alfa or lancia is.
 
Last edited:

Hellcat

zombie nation
Joined
Jul 8, 2005
Messages
28,517
Location
on the A684
Basically Abarth will be the performance version of Fiat in the same way that Alfa is the premium version. They share lots of components and potentially chassis/engine but will have its own style, finish etc.
 

H2DaE

Resident Hairdresser
Joined
Oct 21, 2005
Messages
4,394
Location
Hampshire/Surrey
I think they can survive being a tuning brand aswell as making their own cars. I reckon a small roadster based on the Panda/500 chassis would go down nicely (y)
 

thepottleflump

Shut Up, Fool!
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
2,905
Location
Surrey
Alfa is suppose to be the sports brand and Lancia the luxury brand, except you can't buy Lancia here. All a bit confusing.
 

jug

blessed are the apostates
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Messages
27,935
Location
Durham
Basically Abarth will be the performance version of Fiat in the same way that Alfa is the premium version. They share lots of components and potentially chassis/engine but will have its own style, finish etc.
fiat have already said that lancia will be the performance brand in their future group strategy and that will be the basis for the relaunch of lancia in the uk, the media has suggested that would mean the end of alfa's sporty models. so does this news mean that those lancia plans are scrapped? i'd rather see lancia back on our roads than a new abarth brand. if you drive a lancia you can get some respect, abarth doesnt have the same credentials. thats the difference between having your badge on the intergrale rather than a pair of punto sideskirts.
 
Last edited:

volxstu

More ICE Please
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Messages
13,898
Location
Kent
If Abarth can build A Car that can compete with the new Focus ST at less than £20,000 then they will be laughing all the way to the bank. But as a lot of people have said its going to take more than just the Italians inpecable ability to style a car.
The ST is an Incredably hard car to beat Mechanically, had one in front of us whilst in the Cayman and straight line the ST fairs extremely well (but let it take a corner at that speed)
It is my opinion that you cant Abarth A Cinq in this day and age i hav'nt actually seen the New ones but its too small. For abarth to really take off again it needs to be be applied to cars to almost keep up with porsche's more Mediocre cars.

As far a lancia go's they have gone a very similar rout to Fiat (No surprise) and i feel that it would be an impossible task to remove them from their Italian Market making practical, manouverable city diesel cars. They seem to be doing well there so if it aint broke dont fix it.
Although i do acknowledge that there is a lot of Lanci'as history that i dont know not being a fan myself so this comment may be completly wrong
I definatly dont see them taking away Alfas Sportier Models for Lancia no matter how badly Alfa is Doing.
Alfa Just need to reduce the price and market there cars properly and they will get there popularity back.
 
Last edited:
Top