Fiat Cronos: The best selling car in Argentina is a Fiat sedan!
Argentina is one of the few last remaining bastions of the Fiat brand, with commanding market leadership and sustained local production. In late September this year, Stellantis celebrated the production of 250,000th Fiat Cronos sedan at its Argentine facility in Córdoba, where the sedan is made and exported to other South American markets.
South America is a big market for Fiat cars for several decades. Despite stiff competition from other brands and lack of fresh products from the Fiat stable globally, the brand continues to win over a healthy market share and brand reputation in select segments.
Case in point is the Fiat Cronos in Argentina. The sedan, developed by the R&D Brazil center, was launched in 2018 to replace some of the popular legacy models in the region – Siena Fire, Grand Siena and Linea. The then FCA positioned Cronos as a “mono-allocated model” exclusive to South America, meaning the car will be made for one region at a single facility.
Built on the FCA’s ‘Small MP-S’ platform that also underpins Fiat Argo and Pulse models, the Cronos was launched with 1.3-litre 16 V GSE Firefly and 1.8-litre 16 V E.torQ petrol/ ethanol flex-fuel engines. The range also had choices of 5-speed AMT and 6-speed CVT transmissions, along with regular 5-speed manual, 4 airbags, and so on.
In June 2022, Stellantis discontinued the 1.8 16 V engine in Cronos range, and added a new entry-level variant with a CVT gearbox option. The car also received a mild facelift, incorporating the new brand logo with few interior trim treatments. A new 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine option was added to the sedan.
Bucking up global trends
The Cronos is on the cusp of becoming the Argentina’s best-selling car for the second consecutive year. The sedan already overtook the sales records of other best-sellers in the country with a huge margin namely, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok, and Ford Ranger – all being pickup trucks.
At times when SUVs are considered fashionable and more so in a market dominated by pick-up trucks, the Fiat Cronos is bucking up the trend to become the most popular sedan in the South American market. Since the days of Fiat Duna/ Premio (Uno-based sedan) in 1980s and 90s, Fiat never boasted such a crowning sales in Argentina.
In its own segment, the Cronos has bet its close rival Toyota Etios with a three-fold difference. The success of this Fiat is partly attributed to the exit of Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Voyage sedans from the Argentine market in recent times.
Except for Renault Logan, all other rivals of the Cronos in the segment are imported, giving the car edge over customer preference in terms of all-time stock availability and immediate delivery, more so during the pandemic period and import constraints.
High reliability and customer satisfaction
Yet another reason for Fiat Cronos’s humongous success is customer satisfaction. As per 2021 AutoAdvisor Index brought out by Autoadvisor.com.br, the sedan ranked top with highest valuation score of 8.42 points. In particular, the Cronos secured the highest score of 9.66 in reliability calculated as per instances of original failure in car’s key components.
Further, the owners of the Cronos have appreciated its design, trunk size and interior space, with higher satisfaction in repair costs (9.47 score). The sedan is reviewed as a practical and ‘no-nonsense’ car, with contemporary styling, decent performance, and competitive pricing. Buyers take advantage of the large boot to install CNG kit, to make its running even more economical.
Due credits must be given to the brand’s local R&D for incorporating regional adaptations to meet the specific requirements of the market. For instance, the Cronos boasts high ground-clearance and robust suspension than many of its imported-rivals, which is greatly appreciated by the buyers to take on the road conditions of Argentina.
Although the size and volume of the Argentine market (or even entire South America put together) is relatively smaller than that of India, the Fiat Cronos is a best example of how decentralised R&D and regional market strategies can make wonders to automakers, in an automotive world increasingly dominated by uniformity and mass-production across all markets.