Customers that simply didn’t enjoy haggling with dealers for the price of their new cars flocked to Saturn dealerships when they were still in existence. Fiat will adopt a similar strategy with the introduction of its sub-compact 500 hatchback when it hits United States showrooms later this year.
Although it won’t be outright prohibited, Fiat top brass strongly suggests that dealers refrain from discounting 2012 500s. Chrysler says the number of showrooms has been limited to reduce competition among dealerships. The move is also an attempt to lure in young buyers who are typically intimidated by dealership haggling and generally avoid it whenever possible. In reducing discounts, Fiat’s set prices help it to create strong brand equity keeping the door open for future products.
Fiat altered the hatchback for the North American market, with the most notable being the addition of an automatic transmission. However, the first batch of 500s will come equipped with a five-speed manual, even though the automaker expects the vast majority of sales to be from cars equipped with its six-speed automatic. Head of Fiat North America Laura Soave recently told Automotive News that young drivers “never learned how to drive a manual and they have no interest in driving a manual.” While we hate to admit it, she’s probably right.
Also in catering to the youthful crowd, Fiat will soon hold a training session for its dealers, helping them to guide prospective buyers as they customize the 500 with over 500,000 combinations. Sales “consultants” will also serve non-traditional roles as they will remain the customer’s point of contact for future service.
Fiat believes its pricing strategy and customer service initiatives will help it sell in the neighborhood of 50,000 examples of the 500 in North America this year.