The association with the Ateco Group and Alfa Romeo and Fiat, which began 15 years ago, will come to an end on 1 May. Distribution for the two Italian marques will then fall under the banner of subsidiary company Chrysler Australia. All Alfa Romeo and Fiat dealerships around the country will also come under the control of Chrysler Australia.
Neville Crichton, Executive Chairman of the Ateco Group said, “Alfa Romeo and Fiat have at their heart a real, live passion for life and Ateco has been fully involved in that, whether it has been the yacht, the Alfa Romeo G1 or motorsport with the Fiat 500 Australian Grand Prix and class-winning performances at Bathurst with Alfa Romeo.
“But while this makes it all the more hard to say good bye to these iconic brands, we know that it is that passion that has driven us over the past 15 years and which has made them successful once again in Australia. We know that they now have are prepared and positioned for a strong future in Australia and New Zealand, something of which I and everyone who has worked on them at Ateco can justifiably be very proud.”
Ateco’s full statement can be read after the break.
UPDATE: Chrysler Australia’s statement has also been added below.
Ateco Group returns Alfa Romeo and Fiat to factory distribution
Australia and New Zealand’s leading independent car distributor, the Ateco Group, will transfer Australian and New Zealand distributorship of the Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Fiat commercial vehicle brands to the factory-owned Chrysler Australia (CA) on 1 May 2012 after successfully returning the three brands to the Australian market.
Following the Fiat Group’s takeover of Chrysler the new Group is combining its distribution arms in all major markets and concentrating on those, such as CA, that are factory owned. The changes to Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Fiat commercial vehicle distribution will have no effect on the distribution of Ferrari and Maserati, which will remain with European Automotive Imports.
All existing Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealers will move with the brands to CA, while arrangements for staff at Ateco who worked exclusively on Alfa Romeo and Fiat will be made on an individual basis.
THE HISTORY OF FIAT AND ALFA ROMEO IN AUSTRALIA
Fiat left the Australian car market in 1989, followed by Alfa Romeo’s departure in 1992 after the Fiat Group decided that neither brand was a viable proposition for the local market under its own factory administration despite an Australian history that dates as far back as 1901 for the Fiat commercial vehicles.
In 1995 Neville Crichton started negotiations to return Alfa Romeo to the Australian market culminating with the launch of Alfa Romeo in 1997 with the arrival of the Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV models. Fiat returned to Australia in 2001 with the launch of the Fiat Ducato commercial vehicle range and Fiat cars made their debut in 2006 with the Fiat Punto. In New Zealand, Alfa Romeo and Fiat came under Ateco’s control in 2000.
During the intervening years Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Fiat commercial vehicles have developed a strong position in the Australian and New Zealand markets. As well as car sales, Fiat has built a strong role in the Australian and New Zealand motorhome business, with no less than eight Australian motor home builders using the Fiat Ducato as the basis for their vehicles.
“There is no doubt that without Ateco, the Fiat Group could not even consider returning Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Fiat Commercial Vehicles to factory distribution,” says Neville Crichton, the Executive Chairman of the Ateco Group. “Ateco has proven to them that all three brands have a long term place in the Australian and New Zealand markets, that there is consistent and growing demand for their products and that Australia and New Zealand have, once again, got a key role to play in the company’s global aspirations.”
Although Ateco has built a strong reputation for launching and developing car brands over the past three decades with Volkswagen, Audi, Suzuki and Kia all spending time under Ateco to develop and grow their position in the Australian market prior to the launch of parent company distribution, Ateco has enjoyed a unique relationship with Alfa Romeo, with Neville Crichton playing a major role in Alfa Romeo’s worldwide marketing programme for more than eight years.
In 2002 Neville Crichton took the decision to name his new racing super maxi ‘Alfa Romeo’ in support of his fledgling new car brand and he went on to win that year’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race. In doing so the yacht created worldwide media attention in addition to substantial media coverage in Australia and New Zealand. In 2003 Neville Crichton was awarded a significant Alfa Romeo sponsorship contract to race the yacht in Europe and he went on to dominate the 2003 and 2004 seasons with wins in all the major European blue water classics.
Such was the marketing success of the first ‘Alfa Romeo’, the car maker renewed the sponsorship contract for the second generation ‘Alfa Romeo’ and was even more successful with wins in Europe, North America, New Zealand and, back in Australia, winning the 2009 Rolex Sydney to Hobart. The third generation ‘Alfa Romeo’, a mini maxi yacht, cleaned up the few remaining handicap wins that had not fallen to Neville Crichton at the helm of a yacht called ‘Alfa Romeo’. With a tally of 174 race wins, ‘Alfa Romeo’ has earnt a place in yachting’s record books that is unlikely to be challenged.
Neville Crichton also rescued and restored a unique part of Alfa Romeo’s heritage when he purchased the last remaining Alfa Romeo G1 in the world, the model that has the distinction of being the very first Alfa Romeo. Believing that all Alfa Romeos must be a driveable, not museum pieces, Neville Crichton carried out a ground-up restoration that was so thorough the restored car won its class in the world’s leading classic car event, the Pebble Beach Concours in the USA. During Alfa Romeo’s Centenary Year, the G1 toured Australia successfully competing in classic car events across Australia.
“Alfa Romeo and Fiat have at their heart a real, live passion for life and Ateco has been fully involved in that, whether it has been the yacht, the Alfa Romeo G1 or motorsport with the Fiat 500 Australian Grand Prix and class-winning performances at Bathurst with Alfa Romeo,” says Neville Crichton. “But while this makes it all the more hard to say good bye to these iconic brands, we know that it is that passion that has driven us over the past 15 years and which has made them successful once again in Australia. We know that they now have are prepared and positioned for a strong future in Australia and New Zealand, something of which I and everyone who has worked on them at Ateco can justifiably be very proud.”
Based in Sydney, the Ateco Group distributes the French car marque, Citroen; introduced Australia and New Zealand to Chinese car makers with Chery and Great Wall and represents UK sports car maker, Lotus, Its sister company European Automotive Imports, represents two of the most famous car brands in the world, Ferrari and Maserati. It successful equipment division represents a range of off road and four wheel drive products including the legendary Warn Winch brand. On the retail side, Ferrari Maserati Sydney is the New South Wales dealer for the two exotic brands.
“Ateco is a constantly changing and evolving company,” says Neville Crichton “There is very little left of the company I took over in 1985, with Ateco changing to meet the differing needs and demands of the Australian and New Zealand car markets. The constant is that we have a team of automotive experts that create opportunities and grow businesses, exceeding the expectations of both our customers and the companies whose products for which we are responsible. As we say good bye to Alfa Romeo and Fiat we will be welcoming into our company new brands and businesses that will benefit from the unique skills and talents we have to offer.”
Chrysler Australia group to distribute Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands in Australia
The Chrysler Australia group has announced it will act as the distributor for Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands in Australia from 1st May, 2012.
Managing director of the CA group, Clyde Campbell, confirmed the takeover of the iconic Italian brands today.
“We are delighted to be named the official distributor of Fiat, Fiat Commercial and Alfa Romeo, and we look forward to re-energising these brands in the Australian market,” Campbell said.
Under the new agreement, the current Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealer group, which numbers 17 passenger dealerships with 22 commercial vehicle outlets across the country, will report into the Melbourne-based Chrysler Australia group.
Sales for the Fiat, Fiat Commercial and Alfa Romeo brands during 2011 were recorded by VFACTS at 2,635 vehicles.
Models offered on the Australian market include the Alfa Romeo 159, the 159 Sportwagon and the Giulietta. Fiat models include the Fiat 500, the Fiat 500 Abarth, and Fiat Commercial brands Ducato and Scudo.
The CA group of companies, which currently manages the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands in the Australian market, has seen a remarkable surge in sales in the past twelve months. Calendar year 2011 saw the American marque increase combined sales by 27.5 per cent, and 2012 January and February sales are up 78 per cent on the same period last year. This bodes well for the future of the Italian brands, according to Campbell.
“We plan to tap into the inherent talent and expertise of our staff to take the Fiat and Alfa brands to the next level ,” he said.
“We aim to apply the same enthusiasm that has driven such a leap forward in terms of our current Chrysler Australia sales.
“I have no doubt we will see a re-awakening in the levels of sales awareness and interest for the Fiat and Alfa brands under our management,” Campbell concluded.
The transfer of distributorship of the Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands to the Chrysler Australia group has occurred on the back of the global strategic alliance formed between the Fiat Group in Italy and the Chrysler Group in the United States in 2009.
The Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands have a rich history in the international automotive market, beginning in 1899 when the Societa Anonima Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, or F.I.A.T., was founded by Giovanni Agnelli, and the company built their first vehicle, the 4HP. Since its inception, the Fiat Group has produced approximately 97 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and has claimed international “Car of the Year” titles for twelve of its models.