Maserati, Alfa Romeo to be the new toys of India's super-rich

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New Delhi, Jan 15 (UNI) An economic downturn in the US can spell good news for the super-rich in India with Italian luxury sports car brand Maserati and Alfa Romeo all set to drive into the country this year to counter any possible decline in sales.

''We will bring in the Alfa Romeo in 2008 followed by Maserati,'' said Fiat India Automobiles Pvt Ltd (FIAPL) Corporate spokesmen Marius D'Lima.

Mr Lima said the plans also include bringing the Ferrari brand into the country, but declined to put a timeline to it.

''Since these are our brands, it will not be difficult to get it into the country as and when we decide,'' he added.

Fiat is understood to be in discussion with Tata Motors on dealers and distribution of these brands.

As part of its repositioning, Fiat Powertrain CEO Alfredo Altavilla has already said it has planned an event around the Ferrari in spring.

''A group of journalists will drive Ferrari Scagliettis across India. The idea is to catch the reaction to the brand after which we will plan its launch,'' Mr Altavilla had said.

Apart from its luxury brand, the iconic Fiat 500 will be launched in the second quarter of the year.

''We are looking to price it in the Rs 13-16 lakh range. We are not looking at volumes when it comes to the 500,'' said FIAPL Commercial Ricky Walter.

Mr Walter added that it will be postioned as a lifestyle product and the company only caters to select customers for it.

Except the engine the diminutive Fiat 500 will be customisable in lots of ways. The original Fiat 500 (one available in Europe) is customisable in a mind-boggling 5,00,000 customisation combinations. This effectively means the chances of two 500 looking the same is very slim.

However, the engine for the Fiat 500 in India will be the 1.3 litre multijet engine and that will make the customisation combinations a tad less then the 5,00,000 ways.

The company also has plans to launch the new Palio in its 1.3 litre version in the first week of March. The current versions of Palio include the 1.1 litre Fire engine and the 1.6 litre sport engine. The disel engine had been phased out in the early part of 2007.

Fiat has sold 2,413 units of Palio between April and December this year.


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