That would be twice the number of Punto registrations recorded in 2005, when Fiat pulled out of most daily rental volume-boosting sales. This saw registrations halve compared with 2004 but the company move into profit.
Fiat has shown Grande Punto to its dealers and discussed the best way of hitting the sales target while refraining from discounting. Salomone does not under estimate the difficulties of launching a new model in the hotly-contested, price-sensitive B-segment when Fiat’s brand image is low.
Previous Punto continues, but sales are unlikely to top 3,000 in the UK. Salomone believes Fiat will benefit from loyalty to Punto, and says 500,000 of the cars are driven on UK roads.
Grande Punto, launched on February 11, will be priced from £7,594. “A fabulous price for a little Maserati,” says Salomone, who adds that the car marks a fresh start for the carmaker.
“I believe Grande Punto will sell itself at the prices we are setting, and with the support of TV advertising and product placement,” he says.
“Fleet registrations will account for 30% of registrations, and we will put some units into daily rental, because we want people to experience it, but those volumes will be strictly limited.”
Grande Punto product placement includes a shop window at Harrods. One reason is that Fiat does not have a central London dealer because of high overheads in the city and low margins on its cars.
Brian Hawkins, dealer development director at Fiat Auto UK, says: “Almost the whole of our network stuck with us in 2005, which was a difficult year. The dealers who have seen Grande Punto believe that this car, and other new models, will turn things around for them and us.”