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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.”

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Alfa-Romeo To Play Key Role In Fiat Re-Launch

Half-dozen or more models under consideration for U.S.

by on Aug.31, 2010

The Alfa-Romeo Giulia, shown in concept form at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, will help re-launch the brand in the U.S.

While the spotlight is focusing on the re-launch of the Fiat brand, late this year, another long-absent Italian marque is getting ready to make its own American comeback.

Hundreds of potential dealers were in suburban Detroit, this week, meeting at Chrysler headquarters to discuss plans to roll out the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 microcar, the first of several models Chrysler’s Italian affiliate intends to bring to market.  But at the meeting, sources report, Fiat also provided a road map for the re-introduction of its more upscale Alfa-Romeo brand.

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As many as a half-dozen different sedans, coupes and crossovers are under consideration and could make it to market in the years immediately after Alfa’s return, in 2012.  That’s on top of the various Alfa products that could be used as platforms for Chrysler-branded models.  A revival of the Dodge Viper sports car, for example, is expected to be based on an Alfa offering.

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Bucking Trends, Chrysler Builds A Broader Brand Portfolio

Fiat to meet with 600 potential new dealers.

by on Aug.13, 2010

Fiat will debut with the basic 500, then add models like this electric car. But can Chrysler support five different brands?

American automakers have been downsizing, especially when it comes to brands.

General Motors abandoned four of its eight North American marques as it emerged from bankruptcy, last year, and Ford Motor announced, earlier this Summer, that it would write off its struggling Mercury division after years of dithering over its role in the company.

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Chrysler was one of the first to downsize its divisional tally, doing away with the once-powerful Plymouth brand, back in 1999.  So why is the smallest and most troubled of Detroit’s Big Three suddenly moving in the opposite direction?  Despite the near-collapse of its sales and market share since it began discussing the possibility of bankruptcy, in 2008, Chrysler is actually expanding its brand count, with a major launch due for late this year.

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Chrysler to Set Up Separate Fiat Dealer Network

Suggests bigger plans ahead for Italian maker.

by on Jul.05, 2010

Chrysler plans to set up an all-new distribution network to handle the Fiat 500 and other products from its Italian partner.

When the first Fiat-branded products begin making their return to the U.S., late this year, they’ll be sold in a separate network of showrooms, rather than sitting alongside models sold by the Italian maker’s American arm, Chrysler.

It has been more than two decades since the Fiat brand abandoned the U.S. market, and its luxury arm, Alfa-Romeo, has only had a smattering of offerings here since, most recently the limited-edition 8C.  But a key factor in Fiat’s decision to acquire a controlling stake in Chrysler was to use that partnership to re-establish a presence on American soil.

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The first model to launch will be the Fiat 500, a microcar that has won an array of awards in Europe and other parts of the world.  While some of the Italian makers products will serve as a platform for future Chrysler offerings, the Americanized version of what is also known as the Cinquento will retain its Fiat badge.  And now, it seems, it will be the first product to anchor a new line of Fiat showrooms, according to Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO for both Chrysler and Fiat.

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