Fiat joins rank of failed brands

After 11 years of holding the Fiat franchise, TTS Eurocars has thrown in the towel.
After 11 years of holding the Fiat franchise, TTS Eurocars has thrown in the towel. PHOTO: REUTERS

Fiat agent TTS Eurocars has thrown in the towel to join a growing list of brands which have failed to take root in Singapore.

After 11 years of holding the franchise, TTS Eurocars chief executive Jeslin Teo told The Straits Times that "it's difficult... there's no suitable model".

"We've moved over to selling parallel-imported cars, Toyotas and Hondas, and some Continental brands," she added. "Much easier. These brands sell by themselves."

According to Land Transport Authority figures up to end-May, 22 new Fiats have been registered since 2013.

In the initial years after acquiring the franchise in 2005, TTS Eurocars' sales ranged from more than 100 to more than 600 cars a year.

TTS Eurocars took over Fiat five years after the brand's previous agent Massa Motors went into financial difficulty and relinquished it.

Who will now take over from TTS Eurocars? "I don't know," said Ms Teo. "It's very difficult."

Fiat is not the only "difficult" brand here. Half a dozen other brands have ceased selling or are on the brink of doing so.

All the Chinese brands have ground to a halt, except for Chery. But even Chery is struggling, registering 14 cars since 2013. American brand Dodge has not sold a single car since 2013, while Holden and Lotus sold one and two units, respectively.

The Malaysian makes are not faring much better, with Proton and Perodua registering four and 10 cars in the last 31/2 years. Skoda sold nine cars and has ceased operations.

Daihatsu is the only Japanese brand which is in the same conundrum. It sold 16 cars during the period.

It is likely that all these brands will exit the market.

There are close to 70 car brands in Singapore, but fewer than 20 manage to sell more than 500 cars a year.

That is deemed by industry players to be the minimum for a dealer of a mass-market brand to be viable. Dealers of high-end sports cars and super luxury brands can get by with lower sales.

Last year, 57,589 new cars were put on the road. These include parallel-imported vehicles, which are not brought in by authorised agents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Fiat joins rank of failed brands'. Print Edition | Subscribe