Fiat’s American retailers are struggling to bring in buyers as well as pay the cost of their dealerships, but help is on the way from the parents.
On March 9, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pitched a plan to stabilize dealers, offering Fiat stores the opportunity to combine their operations with the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealers many are adjacent to, Automotive News reports.
In addition to that money-saving move, FCA will financially prop up stand-alone Fiat dealerships that decide to continue their independent operations, as well as streamline trim offerings on the model lineup.
The brand welfare is designed to halt slipping sales until FCA can get more new products into Fiat showrooms. Fiat sales slipped 9 percent year-over-year in February, with year-to-date sales down 14.6 percent.
Less than half of the 206 Fiat dealerships in the U.S. are profitable, according to FCA, and two-thirds see fewer than 10 sales per month.
The vast majority of Fiat dealerships are joined with their FCA siblings, so consolidating those operations would be an easy move, and would save the Fiat retailer in upwards of $100,000 every year in third-party vendor expenses. The move wouldn’t mean the two sides would necessarily have to share showrooms, but that’s an option being left open to the retailers.
These Fiat dealers will also be able to advertise their products alongside Chrysler, Dodge and Ram products.
The remaining 42 independent Fiat dealers will receive monthly rent assistance payments from FCA should they choose to go it alone. Sales goals and incentives would be applied to both types of operation.
Besides the slow sales for Fiat’s 500, 500L and 500X vehicles, FCA’s Alfa Romeo brand — which plans to share space in Fiat showrooms — is falling well behind schedule in getting new models into production.
The full Alfa lineup is now two years behind, and is not expected to reach dealerships until 2020.