TURIN – Fiat Auto changed its new Croma so it would appeal to fleet buyers.
Before signing off the final design for the upper-medium car, Fiat showed prototypes of the Croma to 150 European fleet buyers and to companies that specialize in setting residual values.
We listened to their suggestions, said Pier Luigi Zanframundo, Fiat Autos head of fleet management and network development.
Fiat showed audiences three types of front grilles for the Croma. It chose the grille that residual value specialists said would keep the car looking fresh for longer. Residual value is an important issue for fleet buyers, as it reduces the cost of ownership.
The new 159 lower-premium sedan made by Fiat subsidiary Alfa Romeo was also shown to fleet buyers and residual value experts at the same time as the Croma, but no changes were made.
Target: 60,000 sales
The Croma marks Fiats return to the upper-medium segment after a 10-year absence.
The Italian automaker hopes that large orders from fleet buyers will help the company achieve its ambitious sales target of 60,000 units a year.
Similar cars from rivals are not doing well. Opel planned to sell 80,000 units a year of its Signum but last year only sold 23,558 units.
Zanframundo said Fiat aims to sell 40 percent of its Croma production to fleet buyers.
In January and February about 300 potential fleet buyers were invited to drive the Croma and 159 at Fiats test track in Balocco, near Milan. About a month later, 500 fleet buyers were invited as Fiats guests to the Geneva auto show to see the debuts of the Croma and 159.
Fiat will continue its bid to woo fleet buyers this month by taking 800 of them to to Fiuggi, a resort town 60km west of Rome known for its therapeutic waters.