Fiat’s low quality perception ‘will take time’ to change, says global CEO

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The global boss of Fiat says that the brand’s low quality and reliability perception cannot be fixed with commercials or marketing, but rather with the brand proving itself with cars such as the 500X. Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Fiat 500X in Sydney this week, Olivier François, the global CEO and chief marketing officer (CMO) of the Fiat brand said the quality perception of Fiat is not a reflection of the reality of cars being produced today, but admitted the perception is still lingering nonetheless. “It has been a while that we’ve been producing high quality cars,” François told CarAdvice. “And I mean what I said. I mean the 500 is a good car, the Fiat Panda is an amazingly good car. The 500L has very high quality standards too. So it has been a while [since Fiat produced low quality cars].” “But I am also the CMO so I have to deal with the perception and for CMO perception is reality. I mean for the Fiat brand guy the reality is that these cars are really well built and the 500X is trying to be the best and finest Fiat ever. We have put everything we know in that car and I think the quality is absolutely [high]. “That is what I know, but as the marketing guy I have to cope with the perception because that’s the only reality I know and I know that the perception is not always the one we have, so we have to deal with it, so I don’t think there’s any marketing that will convince the customer of the substance of our cars or the quality of our cars. I believe in test drives, I believe in the ownership and I believe in the customer experience.” The new Fiat 500X has been built on an entirely new platform at a revitalised Fiat factory that is set to usher in a new era for the Italian manufacturer in terms of quality and durability. “This is a car that should address any kind of concern about the quality of Fiat. I don’t think you can fix the quality perception through commercials, so we just have to prove ourselves and it will take time.” Fiat came dead-last in the 2014 and 2015 JD Power Initial Quality Study survey. Meanwhile in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, four of the 10 worst-rated brands in the study belonged to the Fiat Chrysler group.