The Italian Almanac
Italian News - January 8th
Fiat ended 2004 on a glum note, with its share of a flat Italian car market slipping to a historic low even after it launched new models to turn around a slump in sales.
Fiat took 26.6 percent of its home market in December, far below its all-time high of about 60 percent and still well short of its 2007 target of 30.5 percent.
Fiat Auto relies on Italy for about 40 percent of its turnover and had hoped that new launches like the Fiat Panda and Lancia Ypsilon would win back buyers and pull it out of crisis. But a combination of general stagnation in Europe, where many car markets were salvaged only by a strong December, flaccid Italian consumer demand, rising raw material costs and fierce competition pushed another spoke in Fiat's wheels.