_FIAT _and Alfa Romeo have slashed their prices, with savings of up to $8000 on some models, in a move to increase market share in Australia.
The two European brands have also made a commitment to increase the number of models available Down Under as well as improve after-market services.
The most significant savings in the Fiat range can made in its 500C hatch. The entry-level three-door model has been reduced by $4190 to just $18,800 (plus on-road costs), with the open-top 500C Lounge reduced by a similar amount to $21,200.
And the savings at Alfa are even greater, with the compact Giulietta slashed by nearly $8000 to a starting price of $29,350, while the Mito has seen a similar fall to start at $25,200 plus on-roads.
Fiat and Alfa Romeo director Rob Moorcroft said the changes were necessary, with the two brands selling fewer than 2400 vehicles between them in Australia last year.
"These are two sexy brands and two iconic brands but they've never had the volume and, let's face it, they weren't cheap," he said in Melbourne.
To address the lack of range on offer, the next few years will see a number of new models added to the line-up in Australia.
Next year a five-door variant and the cheaper, minimal Pop will be added to the 500 range while a Compact SUV variant is being considered for 2015. Australia will also be getting the quirky Panda SUV, Punto small passenger car and the Freemont crossover. They are all scheduled to be launched within two years.
An updated Alfa Romeo Mito is expected in 2014, while the production-ready 4C coupe, which is set to debut at Geneva, is also expected on our shores early next year. Alfa Romeo's partnership with Mazda will see the rebirth of the Spider, tentatively slated for a 2015 arrival.
Since the change in distribution, the companies have upped the number of dealers nationwide from 17 to 46, with more planned. A central parts warehouse in Melbourne has been established to address supply issues for owners.
Fiat Chrysler chief executive Clyde Campbell said it was time to put the brands back on the radar for potential buyers who weren't already fans, similar to the way the company had marketed Jeep in the past. "We knew Jeep was a brand that made people respond," he said.
"It was sitting there, it just wasn't activated for a long time. We know Alfa Romeo's the same thing. If we bring these products to life, people will respond to it. They feel something about it."
Director of product strategy Alex Tam said it would allow distinctly Italian cars to be available to more people.
"Italian cars are special and until now they've only really been available to a small amount of people with the Ferraris and Maseratis," he said.
"Now we want some other people who wouldn't usually consider an Alfa or Fiat to at least be able to consider buying into that or at least have a look."