Car Industry Chronicles

When Automakers Deserve Dual Citizenship

Empathy and effort have made companies like Buick and Fiat adopt a second home country over the years

  • When they appreciate that effort, the relationship quickly spirals up
  • Fiat has just taken its own with Brazilians to yet another level
The 2018 Fiat Fastback Concept kickstarted Fiat’s rebranding process
2021 Buick Envision

Would you give some examples?

One of the oldest carmakers still active, Buick takes the intermediate position at GM’s portfolio alone, since it no longer directly competes with Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn. In nowadays, it keeps a safe distance from Chevrolet and Cadillac through less extravagant design and, until the 2000s, the tendency to offer large sedans and SUVs following stereotypical North-American concepts.

2021 Toyota Camry

What else can you mention?

Asian companies used the 1970s crisis to enter North America. Their compact, fuel-efficient models affected the local competitors enough to encourage huge changes on how cars were created there. However, the foreigners also learned a lot with that society and continuously improved their local lineup. Naturally, that process led to completely different car models from those offered in Asia.

2019 Ford S-Max ST-Line

Asia, North America… What next?

Ford’s European arm has been independent from the beginning — considering that the British, German and Irish divisions were separately strong, maybe too independent. They merged in 1967 to give birth to Ford of Europe, whose first car was the Escort. While it was offered in the whole region, they took time to unify: one segment above, there were a British Cortina and a German Taunus.

2017 Fiat Argo HGT

Now, this Chronicle’s star

We mentioned that in 2017: Fiat’s effort to understand Brazilians and actually cater to their needs has led not only to an exclusive lineup with locally-created models but also a very strong image there despite being a generalist company that used to focus on small, entry-level cars. Now, it was revealed that the new Strada was only the spearhead of a whole new phase for the Brazilian branch.

2019 Fiat Cronos HGT

Those are all amazing stories!

Investing that much in a given region is an excellent strategy because it speaks to everyone. Conservative customers get the feeling that the company is really committed to the country, so they feel encouraged to keep buying car after car from the same. Innovative ones, in turn, are thrilled by seeing the company go the extra mile to understand their wishes instead of offering generic products.

Writer and future engineer striving to work with car design. If you like cars but not the stereotypes that surround them, give my articles a try.