Chrysler is moving in on its plan to bring the Fiat stateside, as they get ready to name 165 dealers in 119 American markets to carry the Fiat 500. This will be a time -intensive process however, as Chrysler says that franchisees will be expected to maintain small showrooms of approximately 2,500 or 3,000 square feet at first; enough space to display three or four cars.
The plan was unveiled Friday in Detroit. Dealers were chosen to participate in the Fiat program based on their markets. “We have determined the areas of the country where they can succeed and grow,” Peter Grady, Chrysler’s vice president for network development and fleet, said in a statement. Chrysler Group expects to sell 50,000 units in the first year.
It’s not just about the ability to sell the Fiat however. By the end of 2014, there will be seven Alfa Romeo models for sale in the U.S. by the end of 2014, and although Chrysler never explicitly stated it, it is widely believed that Fiat dealers will be the first ones to get a crack at Alfa Romeo dealerships.
The approach Fiat is taking with the 500 is one of heavy customization, as consumers will visit showrooms to select the options on their car from the ground up, with sales personnel functioning almost like interior design consultants. Such an approach will put the 500 in head-on competition with BMW AG’s Mini brand.
Some dealers see this as a great opportunity to differentiate themselves from other like dealers, giving them the opportunity to be viewed as a different class of dealer, with an expanded offering of different types of vehicles.
– By: Stephen Calogera