Chrysler hosts Fiat information session for U.S. dealers


Chrysler Group LLC hosted about 400 U.S. car dealers yesterday in the hopes of developing a network of Fiat dealers for the Italian model’s return to North America.

Now invitees have to determine whether opening a standalone showroom to sell one initial model is worth the investment.

The automaker said yesterday it told dealers it wants roughly 165 Fiat dealerships in metropolitan locations “chosen for their high concentration of small-car registrations.”

Dealer have until Sept. 22 to submit proposals to Chrysler who will then name the dealer network in the fourth quarter.

“The Fiat brand offers our dealers the opportunity to be part of a unique experience,” said Laura Soave, head of Fiat brand North America.

“Our dealers will be able to interact with a group of individuals that are not part of their current customer base. These are individuals interested in Italian automotive design coupled with fuel efficient technology. Our dealers will be the key point of contact with our customers, and thereby, a crucial part of the success of the Fiat brand.”

Published reports indicate Chrysler has high hopes for the small 500 – the first Fiat model to hit U.S. stores. The automaker hopes to sell upwards of 50,000 in the first full year on the U.S. market.

An additional three models would eventually join the 500 and fill the networks’ new showrooms.

The new Fiat retail network will begin selling the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 late this year, and the Fiat 500 Cabrio model in 2011. The Fiat 500 will be built in Toluca, Mexico.

The North American version of the Fiat 500 will be equipped with Fiat’s 1.4-liter, in-line four-cylinder Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) featuring the MultiAir system. The engine is manufactured in the United States.

- with files from the Associated Press