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Fiat Turns to Gucci as 500 Falls Short in U.S.

Maker to add high-style model of minicar.

by on Aug.17, 2011

Two Italian icons come together as Fiat launches the latest version of its minicar, the 500 Gucci edition.

Fiat’s latest version of the little 500 minicar will make its debut on the runway rather than the auto show stage, the high-style Gucci edition debuting on September 8th during New York’s annual Fashion Week, a week ahead of the annual Frankfurt Motor Show where many of the maker’s other new product will be unveiled.

Attracting fashionistas will be critical for the Italian automaker which is in the midst of its re-launch in a U.S. market it had abandoned two decades earlier.  But despite the upcoming introduction of yet another version of the Fiat 500, investors are growing concerned that the maker’s American revival isn’t going as well as planned.

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Fiat shares fell by as much as 6% in Italy on Tuesday, reflecting mounting concerns about the sales shortfall for the 500 in the States.  Through the end of July, American motorists had purchased just 11,500 of the cars, making it increasingly unlikely Fiat can hit its 50,000 target for 2011.

Launched earlier this year in coupe form, Fiat revealed the convertible version of the minicar at the April New York Auto Show and will shortly add the Fiat 500 by Gucci, the most stylish – but also the most expensive version of the 4-seater yet.


Chrysler Appoints First Fiat Dealers

by on Oct.20, 2010

The Fiat 500 will begin rolling into the first U.S. showrooms by December.

As many as 119 U.S. dealers will shortly learn that they’ve been chosen from close to 1,000 applicants hoping to represent Italy’s Fiat brand as it prepares its return to the U.S. market.

The first of those retailers should be up and running before the end of the year, according to Chrysler Group LLC, Fiat’s American partner, with sales to begin in December with the launch of the Fiat 500 minicar.

The decision to go with outlets in 119 markets suggests that Fiat is taken its time before picking dealers. The brand originally stated a goal of having 165 stores operating in the U.S. by the end of 2011, and 200 in business further down the road.

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“We have carefully considered each of these dealer proposals looking for the best locations and the most creative plans,” said Peter Grady, Chrysler Group’s Vice President of Network Development and Fleet Operations. “We are thrilled with their level of interest in securing the Fiat franchise and in the innovative proposals they have submitted. We’re excited to be at the point where we now can start appointing our Fiat dealer network.”