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Fiat CEO: With new Bravo model Fiat launches midsize offensive

From Associated Press| February 01,2007

ROME -- Fiat SpA has invested a total of $454 million in developing its new Bravo car, which marks the Italian automaker's return to the profitable midsize market, the company's chief executive said Wednesday.

The Bravo, unveiled Tuesday evening to much fanfare, is the model that Fiat hopes will help solidify the company's turnaround and represent a credible entry into the mid-size sedan C class populated by the Volkswagen Golf, the Peugeot 7, the General Motors Astra and Ford Focus.

"Bravo is the car with which Fiat launches its offensive in the C segment," Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne told reporters in Rome. "It's been many, too many years since Fiat has been present in this market segment and now we have a chance to have our revenge."

Bravo is the Fiat brand's only midsize car and analysts say the company needs to get a player into that market to secure its recent turnaround. Fiat has targeted the sale of 120,000 Bravo cars in the next 12 months.

The car -- a five-door vehicle that goes on sale next month -- is one of 23 new models the company plans to roll out through 2010. The Bravo name has been revived from a previous three-door compact, but the model is planned as a stylish replacement for Fiat's disappointing Stilo.

Fiat rolled out its new model in just 18 months, compared to an industry standard of 36.

"Bravo is a beautiful Italian car but this vehicle represents much more: The speed with which Fiat moves today," Marchionne said.

The new model was unveiled at a lavish party under a candlelit pavilion inside Rome's Stadio dei Marmi, a marble-covered arena that is part of the Foro Italico complex used for the 1960 Summer Olympics.

The party included a Cirque du Soleil performance as many dark red Bravos sped around the glass pavilion, fireworks went off and dancers wielding lighted torches performed for the public.

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