Ready or not, Fiat vehicles are headed to the United States after an absence of nearly two decades. In anticipation of the launch, partner Chrysler is beginning to choose dealerships it deems capable of handling the sales and service for the Italian offering.
Later this year, the compact Fiat 500 two-door hatchback will be offered here in the States, with the cheeky two-door convertible to follow sometime next year. Following extensive market research, Chrysler decided it wants Fiat dealerships in approximately 125 areas throughout the country spread out among 41 states. The locations selected must have a growth potential for small cars over the next five years.
"The Fiat dealer network will be appropriately sized to serve the market opportunity," said Peter Grady, vice president of network development and fleet, in a press release. "Our vision is to establish a dealer network that will reflect and enhance the brand's reputation for innovation and fun, and will offer a unique, personalized customer experience."
Although Chrysler has a good sense of where it wants the showrooms to be located, dealerships must prove to the automaker that they are capable and ready to sell the Italian automaker's vehicles. Aside from providing a completely separate facility for the vehicles, prospective dealers must provide a separate set of employees devoted to the showroom and service. Well performing dealers will receive priority, but must still meet Fiat's high standards to be eligible. Prospects must also prove they are financially sound and can support such an undertaking.
Dealers in the selected markets have been invited to a meeting at Chrysler's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters to discuss the proceedings.
"This will be a long process," Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel told Automotive News. "We don't anticipate announcing the actual Fiat dealer locations in the network until probably September. Once the proposals start coming in, we'll go over them carefully."
Although the Fiat 500 has already been on sale in world markets for some time, we're pretty excited. Are you as excited about the 500's launch as are we?
Source: Chrysler, Automotive News (Subscription required)