Fiat hopes new models will increase market share

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Italian auto giant Fiat will increase its European market share in 2011 with the launch of new models in the second half of the year, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday.

"For 2011, we expect a general market improvement, with the exception of the European passenger car market, which will be negatively impacted by declines forecast for Italy and France," Marchionne said.

Speaking at Fiat Group's annual shareholder meeting in Turin in northern Italy, Marchionne added: "Nevertheless, we expect that our market share will increase as a result of new model releases in the second half of this year."

In 2010, Fiat's market share for passenger vehicles in Europe dropped to 7.5 percent from 8.6 percent in 2009, according to the group's own figures.

The auto giant is counting on the launch of the new Panda, one of its flagship models, as well as the Fiat Freemont and the new Lancia Thema, inspired by models made by its American partner, auto maker Chrysler.

Fiat decided to wait out the crisis before launching the new cars but has been criticised in some quarters for losing ground to its competitors.

The company is also relying on the Brazilian car sales market, forecast to grow by up to five percent this year.

© 2011 AFP

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