Milan: Italian auto maker Fiat is hoping for the “iPod effect” with the launch of its new 500 model, an updated version of the 1950s motoring classic set to be unveiled later on Wednesday.
Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne believes the once struggling Fiat can emulate the success of fashionable US technology group Apple, which was regenerated by the sleek-designed iPod portable music player.
“I want Fiat to become the Apple of the car world and the 500 to be our iPod,” Sergio Marchionne told daily Italian newspaper La Stampa.
The new Fiat 500 is to be revealed to the world at a glitzy launch party in Turin, the northern Italian hometown of the company.
The new car will be modelled on the rounded bubble-like design of the original 1950s “cinquecento” (500 in Italian), of which four million models have been sold since its launch exactly 50 years ago.
The Italian motoring giant hopes the new Fiat 500 will become a trendy, youth-oriented city vehicle with a cult following—like its predecessor.
The car will be priced at a lower level than the Mini, with the most basic version costing €11,000 (Rs6,05,000).
Fiat plans to sell 58,000 units of the vehicle in 2007.
Fiat Auto, the car division of Fiat industrial group, reported net profit of €291 million in 2006 after years of losses.