Chrysler Michigan dealerships learn how they may be able to sell the Fiat 500 to their customers. In addition to being within the targeted market, dealers will also need a facility that is wholly Fiat.
Online PR News – 08-July-2010 – – AUBURN HILLS, M.I. – Chrysler Michigan customers will see the return of the Fiat in the United States after an absence of more than two decades. But will 2008’s European Car of the Year catch on in America? With the current push toward more fuel efficient, smaller cars, it stands a very good chance.
Before any success can be measured, Chrysler dealers will need to submit an application to Chrysler Group and follow other guidelines including making space for the car not within the confines of their current showroom, but in a new facility fully dedicated to the Fiat 500. The Fiat 500 is a subcompact vehicle and possibly Chrysler’s answer to Honda’s Fit and Ford’s upcoming Fiesta.
“The Fiat dealer network will be appropriately sized to serve the market opportunity,” said Peter Grady, Vice President of Network Development and Fleet, Chrysler Group LLC, in a press release issued by Chrysler. “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.”
Chrysler Michigan dealers will have competition if they want to sell the Fiat, and they will have to meet Chrysler’s criteria for the selection process. Chrysler said it will send out dealer applications to the dealerships that are located within identified markets targeted for Fiat sales. Dealerships will then have to submit a proposal to Chrysler indicating how they would sell, service, and market Fiat.
Chrysler Michigan dealers and dealers nationwide will also be selected based on performance factors such as volume, minimum sales responsibility accomplishment, and Dealer Standards score. The proposed facility the dealer plans to assign to the Fiat brand will also be evaluated.
In addition to a unique facility required to house the Fiat vehicles, dealers will also have to adhere to Fiat standards, adopt a Fiat team wholly separate from their current Chrysler staff, and the dealers will have to prove they have the financial backing to accomplish the installation of the Fiat brand into their dealership as well as the continued support to ensure its success.
Dealers will be selected in approximately 125 markets in 41 states. U.S. Fiat locations will be announced in September.
The reintroduction of Fiat into the U.S. fulfills part of the agreement between Fiat and Chrysler from 2009, in which Fiat gained an initial 20 percent stake in Chrysler in order to gain access to Chrysler’s dealer network, among other reasons. The investment would also convert some Chrysler plants into manufacturing sites for Fiat models to be sold within the U.S. In exchange, Chrysler would gain Fiat’s global network for distributing Chrysler vehicles, more fuel-efficient engine technology, and additional financial rescue coming out of bankruptcy.
Fiat made an exit from the U.S. more than two decades ago as mechanical problems became prevalent and turned the Italian automaker’s name into an acronym for “Fix It Again, Tony.” The reintroduction seems timely as Gen-Y buyers are set to outpace baby boomers in buying power and would not have fresh memories of Fiat’s previous issues.
Accepted dealers will sell the Fiat 500 late this year and will receive the Fiat 500 Cabrio in 2011. The original Fiat 500 has roots in the 1950s, and the current model is sold in more than 80 countries. Chrysler and Fiat have not officially released specifications for the U.S. version, but have released information about Fiat’s 1.4-liter, in-line 4-cylinder engine. The Fully Integrated Robitized Engine (FIRE) features Multiair technology and will deliver 100 horsepower at 6,750 rpm and 95 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. A turbo edition is said to also be available.
Michigan consumers interested in the Fiat should check back with MI Auto Times for forthcoming specifications and details on the U.S. version.
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[Source(s): Chrysler, Associated Press, Consumer Guide Automotive]