By on August 30, 2010

Chrysler execs met with some 400 potential Fiat dealers today to discuss plans for a new network of Fiat and Alfa-Rome brand stores in the US, and as we have noted, a certain amount of overlap can be expected. Chrysler says that “as many as 200” stores could be opened for the Italian brands, but the company has only identified 119 metropolitan markets in 38 US states where it projects sales growth in small car sales. Even with only “about 165” stores planned for the initial rollout, quite a few markets could host dueling Fiat/Alfa stores. According to the NYT’s Nick Bunkley, Idaho, Iowa, Alaska, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, The Dakotas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming will not receive Fiat/Alfa dealerships. Meanwhile, the AFP reports that Chrysler plans to sell 50,000 Fiat 500s in 2011 alone, meaning each of the 165 stores will sell an average of 303 units per year.

Previously we had heard reports that as many as four Fiat dealers are planned in the Phoenix, AZ area alone, and based on this latest information, most good-sized markets should expect at least one rival Fiat store. Initially these dealers will be competing on a single product, the Fiat 500 subcompact, but eventually Fiat dealers will receive several bodystyles of 500 including convertible, Abarth (high performance) and EV versions. By 2012, Fiat dealers will also begin selling Alfa-Romeos, starting with the midsize Guilia sedan and wagon, and eventually including two crossover/SUVs, the MiTo hot hatch, and possibly more. Until those products arrive though, Fiat dealers will face a tough time competing against rivals in the same market. And with plans to expand to “up to 200” total Fiat/Alfa stores, surviving the initial competition is no guarantee of survival.

Sales of the regular Fiat 500 will begin towards the end of this year, with a convertible version following next year. On the strength of these two models alone, Chrysler hopes to sell 50k Fiats in the US next year from its brand-new dealer net. With an average of 303 annual sales per store, one has to assume that dealers will be charging a pretty penny for the Mexican-built subcompacts. After all, dealer startup costs are estimated to be as low as $250,000 and as high as $1m, depending largely on land prices. Chrysler insists that dealers at least have a separate showroom for the Italian brands ready for launch, and they must have plans for a standalone building down the road.

One Chrysler dealer tells the DetN

you have to look at the long-term strategy to turn it into profit, but it doesn’t concern me. If you are not a bit liquid, you shouldn’t be in the game. This is a very liquid business

With 300 annual units of initial volume per store and the possibility for inter-dealer competition in some markets, he’s right that the short-term returns won’t be fantastic. Then again, the long term picture is hardly clear either, as fuel prices, future product, pricing, dealer locations, and the sustainability of public interest in the subcompact hatchback are all open questions. Other issues include the viability of the Fiat brand in a market it previously abandoned in shame, the long-term health of the Alfa brand, and Chrysler/Fiat’s seeming overabundance of automotive brands (particularly as Alfa broadens the range of Italian offerings). And given that MINI and Smart stores are hardly industry-beating profit centers, potential dealers have every right to be nervous. Which might be why Chrysler has conspicuously posted videos of enthused dealers spouting PR-approved excitement.  Because hype conquers all.

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45 Comments on “Chrysler’s Fiat/Alfa Dealer Plan: 50k Sales From 165 Stores In 119 Markets...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    Will the Fiat 500 ads feature aged black and white photographs of Roman military leaders posing with their new chariot?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This guy is 1 of 2, stupid or naive.
    They think they gonna sell 50,000 “500”? – please. Who is gonna buy this overpriced junk? Yea, he is correct, this is like Armani suit – stylish but not practical.

    • 0 avatar
      johngalt

      I actually heard myself say out loud “this guy must be drunk” before I hit the one minute mark.
      Another unchallenged Marchionne pipe dream. With Automotive News reporting today that sales of Smart cars will fall below 100,000 units GLOBALLY, the idea that Chryiat can sell 50,000 unit in the U.S. is laughable.
      But that’s what Marchionne does best, smoke, mirrors and BS.

  • avatar
    portico

    I think even 50,000 is unrealistic for the US market. If Fiat wants to creat “buzz” they will need something to really set them apart from other cars. To me Fiat finds itself in the Toyota Scion, Smart Car, Mini, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent market. Tell me what the Fiat has that these car do not? Hyundai has the price, Mini the design, Fiesta the technology and Toyota the loyalty. Where does this leave Fiat?
    One idea is for them to market themselves as the affordable Prada of small cars. This would take a smart ad campaign and alot of luck. My guess is that even this will not work. Until they figure out what they are and how to make that work they will most likely be placing deep discounts on their cars just to get them out off of the lot

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “Hyundai has the price, Mini the design, Fiesta the technology and Toyota the loyalty. Where does this leave Fiat?”

      Fiat thinks they have the look, which is arguably true until you gaze upon the new Elantra or Fiesta which have much better pedigree and pretty good looks themselves.

      Scion and Smart are out of any serious competition. Mini is getting old and boring.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Secured Chrysler bondholders were told to jump in a lake at 26 cents on the “secured” dollar…FOR THIS?

  • avatar
    fiatjim

    Alfa-Rome?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    A separate showroom in a stand alone building! How much will that add to the price of a car that already costs too much. To succeed with the 500, they need to get the price down and the reliability up to that of the cheapest Hyundai/Kia. The pressure won’t be as intense with Alfas but, even there, they need to maintain a competitive price/performance ratio compared to the Miata, 370Z and Cayman/Boxster.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    why would a dealer risk losing money on a brand that had already left the US years ago when they come back with one single product in low price (=low margin) region?

    They think they can copy Mini, but Mini itself was a cult car (Mr. Bean) and people dishing out that kind of money knew BMW is behind it.

    I don’t think people buying a 500 are willing to spend much money and having a tiny dealer network will suck even more.

    I don’t think the car it really worth bringing over, but couldn’t they just brand it as a Chrysler and sell it in every Chrysler store? This would keep cost down and they had more dealers. And from a branding point of view: Fiat is either unknown to people, or they have bad memories. So the Chrysler brand wouldn’t make it worse in this case.

    Jeez… just so they get more of my $. Wasn’t it one of the requirements to get some more $ of Chrysler for free if they bring a fuel efficient car? Did the agreement include fuel efficient roller blades?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t get the absolute need for the separate showrooms, and I’d rather buy a Giulietta than a MiTo, but whatever.

    I’m just happy I will get the chance to buy a new Alfa Romeo.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I feel compelled to jump in here and say, I think some of you are dismissing this out of hand in a knee jerk reaction, first off, Fiat is NOT expecting new buildings initially, but a separate area of the showroom with a dedicated sales staff and service dept for Fiat/Alfa Romeo, then if things pick up, THEN build the new building dedicated to this venture.

    Secondly, how many of you have read up on Fiat’s current technology? I doubt any of you have read up on anything the company has been doing. They have some world class technology either in the pipeline or in actual production, such as their world class, award winning 1.4L multiair 4 cylinder motor that came out recently, they are bringing out a new, super fuel efficient and sprightly 900cc twin cylinder that uses the same multiair technology (a form of variable valve timing) that is capable of 89HP in normal aspiration, 105 w/ a turbo, that’s 5HP more than the 1.4 in normal aspiration, just to name 2 examples and this twin cylinder motor comes out this fall in Europe and we might see it in the form of a hybrid, which is significant in that the whole package with their new DSG based automanual transmission means a small enough package that they can fit the batteries under the same hood, rather than inside the car.

    Plus, their most recent models, the Panda, the 500, which is based on the Panda platform at the very least has gotten good ratings in so far as reliability is concerned.

    So please read up first before you naysay something without knowing any of the real facts.

    I have my concerns, but also hope that Fiat will be a viable entity, but it’ll take time.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      You make some good points. But do they bring those engines/transmissions you mention to the US?

      And the fact that they have new motors doesn’t tell me if the rest of the car is good. And second, doesn’t tell me of longevity of the motor.

    • 0 avatar
      TokyoPlumber

      I’m sure Fiat’s small engines are truly world class. However, their initial success in the US market will not be dictated by Engineering alone.

      Fiat is not a well recognized brand in North America. And people who do remember Fiat from its prior outing in the US probably don’t hold the brand in too high regard (vis-a-vis quality and durability).

      The other problem is that Fiat cars will be sold through the Chrysler dealer network. At one time (many decades ago!) Chrysler was considered to be Detroit’s “Engineering Company”. However, these days have long since passed. Subcompact and compact Chryslers are invariably seen as cheap and inferior to most of their competition. This perception is going to make it difficult for Fiat / Chrysler to draw in the required demographic for the Fiat 500. Regardless of Fiat’s Engineering prowess seeing a Dodge Caliber parked next to a Fiat 500 is going to be a big turn off for a typical Fiat 500 buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      To Geo.Levecque, MJZ, TokyoPlumber and Herr Kelum,

      I know the history of Fiat here in the US I was a kid when they existed here and recall when they left and how Bertone soldiered on selling the 124 spider and the X1/9 before they pulled out in 1985, I also know that Lancia left the same time as Fiat, Alfa Romeo pulled all but the Veloce and it soldiered on until 1995 here in the US, and have heard of the disaster of Lancia in Britain and how they were forced to pull out due to massive rusting issues, which soured their reputation there and I’m well aware of the rust history, but let me just say, first of all, the 500, and perhaps the Panda at the very least are now fully galvanized all the way up in the most critical areas (I think this is true for ALL new models from the 3 marquees that have been released in the past 2-3 years at least), including body panels, shells, frame etc, all mission critical components have been galvanized and they are now considered some of the most rust resistant cars out there.

      Secondly, the 1.4L multiair motor WILL be in the new 500 upon debut, they are talking about an EV based 500 and I believe a hybrid, using that very same 900cc motor in a hybrid configuration at the very least, they are bringing over the new 7Spd DSG automated manual (similar to the dual dry clutch one VW now uses and both are based on the Bord Warner unit although I think VW still uses at the moment the wet clutch assembly but is going with the dry clutch version if they haven’t already), just unclear if it’ll be available here immediately or later in the year, I don’t know and we will be debuting the BRAND NEW Panda platform before Europe as the 2011 product cycle here in the US will be from Dec 2010-July 2012 which at that point, both Europe and the US will get the new version of the 500, but as it stands right now, other than the platform, the current model will be visually like the Euro version with a few minor changes to accommodate our safety rules, dimensions will be identical other than the front overhang, due to bumper regs here in the US (from spy photos it appears it’ll be similar to the one on the Abarth).

      That said, much of their technology WILL make its way INTO actual Chrysler products, platforms (which they seem to be making some fantastic ones with the new Mito and the Guilia, the Guilia having just been released in the past few months, engines to some degree, but at the very least the new Multiair variable valve timing technology will find its way into actual existing Chrysler motors.

      It’s true that they have an uphill battle on their hands as both companies (and they are NOT alone) have to overcome serious damage done through faults of their own making and not of their own making (and I’m looking at Daimler here).

      I grew up on Mopar products, having been brought home from the hospital after birth in a ’64 Dodge 330 station wagon with the venerable 225 Slant 6 back in 1965 and have gone through several 70’s era plymouths, owned a ’68 Chrysler Newport in HS and my parents had a ’95 Chrysler Concorde that turned out to be a pretty decent car for the times and Mom currently drives a 2004 Dodge Stratus that’s held up well so far, the biggest thing was her steering rack went out and the extra warranty she got with it covered the ENTIRE repair and the local Dodge dealer were very good about the whole thing for the most part (she bought it 1 year old as a used car sale at another dealership). I like the car for the most part as she even though it’s NOT what I’d choose as it’s a 4 door sedan and I’m not a 4 door sedan kinda guy, sporty hatchbacks and wagons are more my thing but even I enjoy driving it when I’m visiting her.

      Again, I’d suggest you all read up before you nay say.

      Prices here are expected to run in the 15,650 (est.) as the base price, on par with many of the other subcompacts, and is well equipped with the usual basic goodies like ABS, ESC, antislip, 7 airbags, AC (except in the base Pop where it’s optional), stuff like that.

    • 0 avatar
      TokyoPlumber

      Ciddyguy,

      The $15,650 base price you are quoting is well below most other estimates I’ve read (and puts the 500 right in the middle of the subcompact class). At this price point the base Fiat 500 is only around $800 more than the base Honda Fit. This is still well above the base Ford Fiesta … but this could even out if the Fiat 500 comes with more standard equipment. At $15,560 base 50,000 units could be quite achievable. I tend to think, though, that the price will be at least a few thousand above this.

      Where are you getting this base price information?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      Ciddyguy, please try to use more than one full stop per paragraph. As it is now your posts are almost incomprehensible.

      One thought, one sentence. One topic, one paragraph.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Tokyoplumber,

      I should’ve been more clear, that quote of 15,650 is a rough quote, taken from what the exchange rates were back in the spring, in comparison to Germany, UK, Italy and one or two other countries, I forget now and extrapolated to this figure, in the UK for instance, in British Pounds, the car begins at something like 10,000 Pounds, with the car made in Tichy Poland.

      We’ll get it made here in Mexico at a Chrysler plant, which will help with the overall price structure, but I suspect it may come in at between 14,000-18,000 range, give or take, given trim and options.

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    I very much doubt Chrysler will be able to sell 50,000 Fiat 500s a year in the United States. In all likelihood the Fiat 500 will be positioned in the US market as a MINI fighter. Based on where the 500 is likely to be priced it will not be competing against the low or middle segment of the subcompact market (ie, where more demand yields higher sales volumes).

    The entire MINI brand sells around 50,000 units a year. Somewhere around sixty percent (60%) of this is for the Cooper / S, which would be the Fiat 500’s natural rival. The balance of MINI’s sales are for the Convertible and Clubman. So annual sales of the Cooper / S are probably around 30,000 units (perhaps as high as 35,000 units).

    By claiming that they hope to sell 50,000 units Fiat / Chrysler are essentially saying they expect to exceed the success of the MINI Cooper / S in the first year of sales. Doing this would require that this segment of the market (ie, premium subcompact) be enlarged by a factor of more than two and a half times (ie, 30,000 units MINI + 50,000 units Fiat = 80,000 units). I think this is completely unrealistic.

    My sense is that Fiat / Chrysler would be doing VERY well if they sold around 30,000 units of the 500 in 2011. Even this number should prove difficult to achieve, however, given US tastes, current economic conditions and current fuel prices (to say nothing of the demographic mismatch between typical Chrysler buyers and prospective Fiat buyers). Many US consumers are looking for small, fuel efficient vehicles … but the vast majority of them are looking for cheap, small fuel efficient vehicles. And the Fiat 500 will not be Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent cheap.

    A better strategy for Fiat / Chrysler would have been to re-badge the Fiat Panda as a Chrysler and go after the “high value” segment where the margins are slimmer, but the volumes are higher (and the chances of success much greater).

  • avatar
    mjz

    You are all full of crap. The 500 is absolutely adorable. Will sell like ice cubes in Hell. So big deal, dealers have go out on a limb for future rewards selling more 500 iterations and Alfas. BFD. That’s the nature of the biz. Go big or just f’in go home.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      I think you are right.
      This car will be the next biggest thing.
      I’m partial to small cars, I own a smart.
      But unlike the smart and like the Mini, this thing doesn’t compromise on space. Its as cute as a button and I’m smitten by it, i’m sure many others will to.
      Its laughable to think people still think gas prices will stay this low forever, and that the 1990’s will magically appear again. If the economy gets better, gas WILL go up. Its not a “if”, its a “when”. To think that small cars are fad is a joke.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    There engines might be okay, it’s the body of the vehicle is a concern, in Scotland when I was there in February this year, I asked friends what they thought of FIAT vehicles and they said they were Rust Buckets, and I know from reading copies of “Which” they are not rated too high, Buyer beware I would think!

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      If they rust here in the U.S. they will be finished. Reliability will also be important, but Mini has been able to soldier on with dismal quality for years.

    • 0 avatar

      This again Geo?

      I live in Scotland. I personally have owned four FIATs over the course of the last 15 years. My immediate family have owned a further three over the same period. All of them were fully galvanised and only one of them rusted at all: a 1989 model Mk1 Panda. That car had developed some minor (non-structural) rust on the bottom of the door sills in 2000 just before I sold it to a friend – at that point it had been my hassle-free daily driver for six years and my mother’s for two before that – the friend had been running it trouble free for a further five years when I last heard from him and the rust had never become a significant problem.

      Hardly a “rust bucket” and the only example of corrosion on any of the seven FIATs I and my family have first hand ownership experience of.

      My parents are currently proud owners of their second “Nuova Panda” (a 2009 model, same platform as the 500 and pretty much the archetypal modern FIAT, except that theirs has an automatic transmission which most don’t). They regularly rave about how reliable, frugal and solid it feels… often comparing it with their previous car (a Mercedes A-Class) and commenting on how much more reliable, comfortable and better built they find it. For the record they regularly drive between homes in Yorkshire and Western France which is as close to US style mileage as you’re likely to find in Europe.

      Your friends are clearly not speaking from personal experience, and sound like they’re simply spouting the same old uninformed cliches as most of the commenters here -have they personally ever driven a FIAT out of curiosity? Or even looked closely at one in a car park for chrissakes?

      Please stop rehashing these ill informed secondhand opinions as if they were representative of the subject at hand. They are not.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I don’t think 165 dealers will sign up – not even with the relaxed standard of separate showrooms vice stand alone dealerships, until some indeterminate time in the future.

    The car is a Fiat and there is no sense comparing it to the MINI. MINI as everyone knows is engineered by BMW. The 5OO as everyone knows, is engineered by Fiat. Ironically the MINI is viewed as a sports car while the 500 will be viewed as a “mini” car. Americans do not like mini cars unless there is a hell of a lot of sport in it.

    MINI probably didn’t have to be sold separately, but I can understand the concern for how it might have affected the BMW brand. Turns out MINI has been well received and there is probably no real reason it can’t share showroom space with Bimmers.

    The 500 absolutely doesn’t need to be sold separately because Fiat’s rep isn’t good enough to worry about Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep dragging it down. And vice versa.

    303 cars per dealer per year isn’t going to get anyone with any sense to make an investment in separate facilities. I figure most dealers are open Sat., so that makes about 312 business days per year. IOWs, they’ll sell about one 500 per day, if they hit the target average. This will happen in LA. It won’t happen in smaller and/or snowier markets, and I predict that some of the 119 metro areas will not be served by a Fiat dealer.

    A decent but by no means outstanding salesman can push 15 cars a month. A dealer only really needs about 2 guys to handle the 303 car average. For shift coverage and to deal with multiple customers coming in at the same time, they’ll need more. Dealers must now pay minimum wage for hours worked if the salesman doesn’t make any sales (or if the mini doesn’t bring him up to minimum wage rate) This means it actually costs money to have guys hanging around, trying to sell cars, even when they don’t. It doesn’t really matter that they won’t be around long if they don’t produce, their replacement will cost money as well. Basically we’re talking about selling one more car per day – which of course any dealer would like to do. But at what cost? Even with the “low” initial investment of a quarter million bucks, (with more investment to follow if Fiat is serious about stand alone dealerships) how many skinny deals does it take to get your investment back?

    Dealers located within awareness of a Hyundai/Kia dealer would be insane to invest money in this.

    Basically, more money can be made by finding a way to sell one more Chrysler (or Dodge/Ram/Jeep) per day than by signing up to be a Fiat dealer.

    I think the separate showroom/staff requirement will be dropped pretty quickly. This only makes economic sense if the only cost to the dealer is signs and floor planning a couple 500s. Maybe not even then.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Dynamic 88,

      First off, 168 dealers is just to get STARTED, Fiat is starting out slow with this venture as they are sooooo aware of their previous reputation here, Secondly, 303 500’s per dealer might sound ambitious but it might not and they ARE targeting mainly areas deemed to be good growth for SMALL cars, hence places like LA, Seattle, NYC are on that list and eventually Alfa Romeo will be sold along side. My guess is if the demand is there, they’ll ramp up production as time goes on, it’s a logical way to do it.

      As for the comparison to the Mini, really it’s compared primarily to the Mini One, which isn’t even sold here in the US, we only get 2 flavors of the Cooper here and in a review between the 500 and the Mini One via Firth Gear, they were both close, the Mini more composed but dealing with a significant amount more weight than the Fiat to propel the car but overall handling was not quite as lively as the 500, while the 500 is less go cart like in its handling, it’s still very much a FUN and sporty car and quite tossible, a trait Fiat has been well known for, for years.

      As for separate floor space, that is so Fiat CAN establish it’s own identity, irrespective of Chrysler and yet let Chrysler grow the brand on its own is what it sounds like.

      Granted, both have an uphill battle here in the US for a variety of reasons and it namely has to do with public perceptions, valid or otherwise.

  • avatar
    th009

    @ciddyguy, do you work for Fiat/Chrysler?

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      No, I do not work for either company.

      I just have more faith in this match up than I did for Daimler and Chrysler and as it stands now, this match up looks more promising than GM at the moment.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    ciddyguy

    First off, 168 dealers is just to get STARTED, …

    I understand. I’m predicting the start will actually be even slower, because not enough dealers will sign on.

    Secondly, 303 500’s per dealer might sound ambitious but it might not and they ARE targeting mainly areas deemed to be good growth for SMALL cars, hence places like LA, Seattle, NYC are on that list and eventually Alfa Romeo will be sold along side.

    Doesn’t sound ambitious at at all in terms of cars per dealer per day. Just one more sale per day. But why invest 250K or up to 1M for that? Just find a way to push one more Wrangler or one more Sebring out the door each day and you’re ahead of the game because no investment was required in separate showrooms/staffs.

    It is ambitious compared to MINI sales because it won’t be anywhere near as good a car – whether that perception is true or not isn’t the point. If it sells anywhere near the price of a MINI, people will just go for the MINI. Buying a starter Bimmer is a different proposition than buying a starter Fiat.

    If it sells for the price of a Hyundai, why not get a bigger car with a better warranty for the same money? Do you really imagine most car buyers are so enamored of the 500 that they’ll pass up a proven car for the same money?

    As for the comparison to the Mini, really it’s compared primarily to the Mini One, which isn’t even sold here in the US, we only get 2 flavors of the Cooper here and in a review between the 500 and the Mini One via Firth Gear, they were both close, the Mini more composed but dealing with a significant amount more weight than the Fiat to propel the car but overall handling was not quite as lively as the 500, while the 500 is less go cart like in its handling, it’s still very much a FUN and sporty car and quite tossible, a trait Fiat has been well known for, for years.

    IOWs, your comparison is irrelevant. And Fiat is not know here for being tossible, it’s either unknown or known for being junk, depending on a prospective customer’s age.

    As for separate floor space, that is so Fiat CAN establish it’s own identity, irrespective of Chrysler and yet let Chrysler grow the brand on its own is what it sounds like.

    I understand the idea, it’s just that Chrysler dealers are in poor enough shape already w/o additional investment in establishing a brand identity for a single model niche vehicle.

    Sure, maybe down the road the dealer can have a whole stable of Italian cars but how desirable is that? Want to invest, in current conditions, on the iffy proposition that a stand alone Italian car dealership will be a money maker?

    Makes much more sense, for now, to just sell them off the Chrysler showroom floor – at least from a dealer’s perspective.

    Granted, both have an uphill battle here in the US for a variety of reasons and it namely has to do with public perceptions, valid or otherwise.

    Right, and that makes it a pretty iffy investment at a time when car sales in general are not exactly booming.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      I understand. I’m predicting the start will actually be even slower, because not enough dealers will sign on.

      True enough and even if they got all 165 dealers, that’s still modest in the grand scheme of things and it’s the fact that they ARE starting slow but I can also see how they shoot for a bit higher goal and if they make that goal, great, if not, then they can’t say they didn’t try.

      Doesn’t sound ambitious at at all in terms of cars per dealer per day. Just one more sale per day. But why invest 250K or up to 1M for that? Just find a way to push one more Wrangler or one more Sebring out the door each day and you’re ahead of the game because no investment was required in separate showrooms/staffs.

      Which is why I said, it might be ambitious, or not, that said, I STILL see a fair amount of Chryco products still being sold, true a LOT of them are Jeep Wranglers, Commanders, Liberties and Grand Cherokee amongst other models here in Seattle at least.

      I understand the idea, it’s just that Chrysler dealers are in poor enough shape already w/o additional investment in establishing a brand identity for a single model niche vehicle.

      Which may well be why they are targeting larger urban areas where sales tended to be stronger to get things rolling, that I don’t know for certain but certainly markets that have a strong subcompact market showing is definitely one piece of the decision pie.

      Sure, maybe down the road the dealer can have a whole stable of Italian cars but how desirable is that? Want to invest, in current conditions, on the iffy proposition that a stand alone Italian car dealership will be a money maker?

      That I can’t answer as I’m not a car salesman, just someone interested in cars and is hoping to be in the market to downsize to a much newer city friendly, but fun car in the next year.

      Makes much more sense, for now, to just sell them off the Chrysler showroom floor – at least from a dealer’s perspective.

      That’s what I’ve been trying to say, just what Marchione is going after, dedicate a sales person and floor space in an existing dealer to sell the 500 and go from there.

      Right, and that makes it a pretty iffy investment at a time when car sales in general are not exactly booming.

      True, but who knows how things will be once this car begins showing up in showrooms early next year. Granted we won’t be out of the woods by any means but things CAN turn around for the better between now and early next year, but as I said, I still see new cars being sold and I do see interest out there, just the question of, will it translate into actual sales once the car is out is still to be determined.

  • avatar

    I don’t know how many cars Fiat will sell here but I think that their marketing will push the Italian angle. Say what you will about Italy, but the country is known for style. I think we might see Fiat also mention some of the other Italian car companies that it owns, like Ferrari, in it’s advertising.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Referring to a Fiat as an ‘import killer’ in the United States is humorous and ironic. The only import that Fiat killed last time around was itself.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    sales of Smart cars will fall below 100,000 units GLOBALLY

    I heard the Shamrt being short wheel base could really jerk your head around. The car is not all well built, the clutch last usually 70,000 miles or so.
    a new clutch costs CAD $1500, not cheap eh.

    FIAT could have some serious uphill battle to win.
    Stand alone show room is nice, but high investment, slow return, who with sane mind do this?

    prancing Horse did that, so the new dealer just ditched her, used to be RR, Ferrari all in 1 shop, they made it separately the new owner kind of shyed away, as not sure what the return.

    Good luck to FIAT anyways.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    FIAT are kind of known to have good time but not long time.

    I really cant see them flying off the shelf.
    eCONOMY IS still kind of sputtering, would people bet on un-charted sea?
    I wouldnt, unless have more $$ than brain.
    Dont want to be such a loser but is the harsh reality.
    Ask if Americans are not indebt enuf already?

  • avatar

    The market is being flooded with small cars, while gas is back down to $2.50. The timing may be bad, unless this is as cheap as mentioned above (doubtful). While our government pushes for the Europization (?) of our roads with small cars, I suspect that most Americans are a little concerned about their safety in one of these, when the Ford F150, Tahoe or similar vehicle is still omnipresent. Chief Brody said it best…”I think we’re going to need a bigger boat”.

    I honestly think the popularity of crossovers instead of traditional wagons has a lot to do with perceived impact survivability with trucks and suvs.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I think the Fiat reliability issues of past don’t apply today. Most any modern car is vastly different than what was being sold in the 80’s and Fiat builds decent cars today. Will this overcome there brand reputation in the US? Guess we’ll see but I suspect this could be popular amongst 1st time new car buyers in the younger demographic. It will be fresh, different and have that Fiat “cuteness”. Not sure if this will get their numbers but I expect to see Fiats in my commute once available.

    • 0 avatar
      capprentice

      I have to wonder how they are going to actually COMPETE. I don’t consider smart much of competition. But we have other companies that are coming out with smaller care with a much better reputation. Look at the Toyota or Scion IQ. That car looks ikw it will compete directly with this one, but with a better reputation.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A bankrupt, low quality, automaker with a poor track record and living on government life support is seeking investors in another bankrupt, low quality automaker with a poor track record and living on government life support. Doesn’t sound promising.

  • avatar
    mjz

    You guys are being way to clinical about this. If you haven’t seen a 500 in person (I live in Royal Oak, MI and have seen several), this little car is way beyond cute. You want to pick it up and hug it! It oozes personality and charisma. It is not an oddity like the smart. The cars I have seen are beautifully designed and have great looking interiors (I’ve seen two with red leather seats). If they price it in the $15-20,000 range, they will have a huge hit on their hands.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I think you’re right. If your someone who can afford one of these suckers new and can afford to dump it when the warranty expires (if they turn out to not be reliable,) and Chrysler/Fiat treats people well in their dealership experience they could have a hit on their hands! But, that’s a lot of “ifs.”

  • avatar
    mjz

    The 500 will be an emotional purchase. Fiat’s past issues are just that. Past. Most of the people buying these either won’t remember or just won’t care about Fiat’s former foibles.

  • avatar
    LDMAN1

    Why waste time with Fiat 500 when Abarth would make more sense?

  • avatar
    dswilly

    After perusing the Fiat website on the 500 its obvious who this car is targeting and this demographic wont care or remember anything about Fiats past. All they will care about is that its Italian(European), cute, affordable, different and new. The Mini will feel it most. The website although not tailored to the NA market is done very well.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I hope that this works for Fiat, but I don’t have much confidence that it will. MINI worked because it was attached to BMW, had the engineering chops to deliver, had the marketing and dealership support to make it work, invested the money in advertising and so on.

    I don’t believe reliability will hurt Fiat.. I think it’s attachment to Chrysler dealerships will. Chrysler will be selling a premium product attached to a dealership that doesn’t know how to sell to that demographic.

  • avatar
    george70steven

    One idea is for them to market themselves as the affordable Prada of small cars. This would take a smart ad campaign and alot of luck. I don’t know for certain but certainly markets that have a strong subcompact market showing is definitely one piece of the decision pie.
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