The Fiat 500 is set to launch early next year, but no Fiat dealerships have yet been established. That will change shortly, as Chrysler just invited 600 of its dealerships to apply for Fiat franchises.
The invitations went out yesterday to dealerships in 36 states and Puerto Rico, for a total of 119 markets. Dealerships that accept the invitation will attend the Fiat Experience on August 30 in Detroit. At the event, Chrysler will detail its plans for the Fiat dealership network and ask interested dealers to submit proposals by September 22. Dealers will be chosen in early October.
"The requirements for Fiat are straightforward: separate sales and display at launch, transitioning to a full dealerships facility as the volume grows," said Chrysler Vice President of Dealership Network Development Peter Grady.
The first Fiat scheduled to hit dealership next year is the 500 hatchback. Production will commence later this year at Chrysler's plant in Toluca, Mexico. Three other versions of the Italian minicar are scheduled to go on sale by 2013 including a convertible, Abarth variant, and high-roof, four-door hatchback.
In addition to selling Fiat, approved dealerships may get the chance to sell Alfa Romeos, as the brand is supposed to return to the U.S. in 2012. No firm details have been set about expanding the upcoming Fiat network to include Alfa Romeos, but Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisel commented that the Fiat network "might be expanded as more new products are added to the lineup."
Interestingly, if no Chrysler dealership in a given market comes up with a suitable proposal, a non-Chrysler dealership may be offered a chance to sell Fiat vehicles. That scenario, however, won't occur until all of the interested Chrysler dealerships have submitted proposals.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)