Italy’s Fiat Auto had another miserable year in 2004 according to the full year figures which show its share of the car market in Italy slipping to a historic low in December. Its sales in the whole year stayed at 28% of all car purchases in Italy, despite the launch of new models – such as the Fiat Panda and the Lancia Ypsilon – which it had hoped would turn around a slump in sales. Fiat relies on Italy for about 40% of its turnover.
This year looks no better with industry analysts predicting a fall in sales in Italy of 6.6%. Fiat Auto is looking to return to operating profit in 2006. It is pinning a lot of its hopes on the new Punto, due out in the autumn.The model is Fiat’s best seller – accounting for a third of its sales – and it cannot afford a flop.