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Laura Soave, Fiat’s U.S. Brand Boss Ousted

Falls victim to sluggish sales.

by on Nov.22, 2011

Former Fiat marketing chief Laura Soave with the 500C during its New York Auto Show launch in April.

Automotive veteran Laura Soave has been forced out of her post as head of Fiat in the U.S. as the Chrysler Group LLC shook up the marketing effort behind the tiny Fiat 500 which has been suffering from sluggish sales since its public launch late last year.

Timothy Kuniskis, a veteran Chrysler Group marketing executive, was named to head of the Fiat Brand for North America, replacing Soave, who led the return of the Fiat brand for nearly two years. Soave, a veteran of top marketing jobs at both Volkswagen and GM “left the company to pursue other interests,” Chrysler said in a statement.

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In his new role, Kuniskis, will serve as Director for both the Chrysler Brand and Fiat Brand Product Marketing. That includes managing Fiat Brand sales, marketing, dealer network and service.

“Tim brings broad expertise and leadership in dealer operations and marketing where he has been already working with the team to shape the direction of the Fiat Brand,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC, who personally made the announcement of the change in management.


Fiat Expanding Line-up, Alfa Likely to Debut With 4C, Says U.S. Chief

Plans for Italian brands falling into shape, according to Soaves.

by on May.17, 2011

Alfa will turn to the 4C to ensure no one can miss its return to the U.S. market.

With initial demand for the little 500 exceeding expectations, Fiat is laying out plans for an expanded line-up that will bring additional models to the U.S., according to the brand’s top American executive.

Meanwhile, sibling Alfa Romeo appears ready to use a production version of the wildly popular 4C concept car to help re-launch that brand here in the U.S.

Despite a two-month delay in getting the Fiat 500 to market, this past March, sales are running ahead of expectations, according to brand boss Laura Soaves.  Demand for the manual transmission version are stretching availability of the gearbox from suppliers, she said during a dinner conversation on Monday.

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Now begins the brand’s expansion, the 500C convertible facing its big test as journalists flood into New York for a first test drive.  That will be followed by the high-performance Abarth edition and, then, a battery-powered version of the little 500.

Soaves has long suggested that what Europeans know as the Cinquecento won’t be the end-all-be-all for the U.S. version of the Fiat brand and she confirmed that another, larger model is now set to follow.  In fact, it appears several products could give Fiat a much fuller showroom over the next several years.


Big Apple Preview Set for Fiat 500 Convertible

Launching by spring - whenever that comes.

by on Mar.23, 2011

The Fiat 500 Convertible is expected to make its formal debut at the NY Auto Show.

There’s some big news coming from the Big Apple.  With less than a month to go until the annual New York International Auto Show a number of makers are beginning to drop hints of what they’ll be bringing to the Jacob Javits convention center.

Among those planning to shine in the spotlight is Fiat, which will stage the formal unveiling of its new 500 minicar.

The Italian automaker recently staged its long-awaited return to the U.S. market – after an absence of two decades – with the 500 coupe heralding its return.

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Fiat officials have said they plan to roll out a procession of variants to keep demand building for the little car, and the 500C will join the line-up before mid-year – which given the weather in much of the country may just barely see the start of spring.