Two weeks ago, Chrysler opened up its doors, and allowed nearly 600 dealerships to apply for a Fiat franchise. Although they'll certainly be selling the little 500, they may also stock, sell, and service another brand altogether: Alfa Romeo.
A Chrysler spokesman had previously indicated that Fiat's North American dealers may handle the Alfa line in the U.S., but it now seems more likely than ever, according to Chrysler Group and Fiat CEO Sergio Marhionne.
"It's more than likely that Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands will be sold in the same [showrooms]," Marchionne told Automotive News at a recent event at Chrysler's Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
That's significant, as it may calm some dealers' fears that sinking money into a Fiat franchise would leave them with one main model -- the 500 -- to sell. Should Alfa's return to the U.S. finally stay on course with the company's plans, the brand could launch as early as 2012, with a new Giulia sedan and wagon, adding another two vehicles to Fiat showrooms. Alfa executives have also talked about bringing a subcompact hatchback, midsize SUV, and a roadster stateside as well.
While 600 dealers were invited to apply for a Fiat showroom, the final dealer network will be much smaller. Chrysler plans on whittling that figure down to 200 dealers by October 2010, just in time for the 500's official U.S. launch.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)