Blog: Uno, Mille, Palio and new Uno
Dave Leggett | 23 March 2007
Interesting article from our man in Mercosur, Fernando Calmon, looking at Fiat's plans for a new low-cost car in Brazil. Sounds like Fiat has been sparked into action by the threat of a low-cost Chinese car being assembled within the Mercosur area. The cheapo car will likely be the basis, though, for a worldwide successor to the Palio.
It will also be a simplified version of the current Palio and may be reprise the Uno name.
The 1984 European Car of the Year Uno actually lives on in Brazil as the 'Mille', an updated version of the original car (our article carries a picture of the current car, the cosmetic alterations clearly visible).
Examples of old cars that quietly live on for decades, defying conventional model cycles, are intriguing. Sometimes it seems that the planned run-out period uncovers a new seam of demand, a new entry-level segment, that the manufacturer then wants to exploit for as long as possible. And then if the dealers say there is continued demand, the pressure to keep the car in production is hard to resist.
Other examples that spring to mind include the Mark 1 Golf (CitiGolf) in South Africa and the will-it-ever-be-canned Maruti 800 in India.
For the manufacturer it's a case of no (or very little) further product investment and the sales are just cream on top, the investment in model development and production line having been amortised many years ago. In some countries, the models survive for decades until a regulatory threshold of some sort (like tighter emissions levels necessitating a new engine) or worn out tooling make the necessary investments to keep the model going too big. But these long runners must be some of the most profitable autos ever made.
It'd be interesting to see an analysis of the highest selling models of all-time. Actually, I have seen a table somewhere, Beetle at the top I think, but just can't remember where it was...
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...