• Jul 6, 2010
Fiat 500 – Click above for high-res image gallery

When Fiat and Chrysler merged, it was assumed that Fiat and Chrysler-branded products would be sharing a common showroom floor. Well, you know what happens when you assume. The Detroit Bureau reports that when Fiat-badged vehicles arrive Stateside at the end of the year they will be sold in an all-new showroom bereft of any manner of Chrysler product. The news reportedly comes from none other than Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who adds that a total of 200 Fiat stores will come online in an undetermined time.

While Chrysler dealers are likely a bit upset that they won't have Fiat products to sell in their dealerships, they will reportedly get first dibs to claim one of the 200 stand-alone stores. And those dealerships must be equipped with both sales and service departments as well. The first Fiat to enter the Fiat-exclusive showroom will be the diminutive 500, which has been very well-received overseas. And more product is undoubtedly also on the way, as the 500 alone is not a big enough carrot to warrant buying a new dealership.

Opening 200 new dealerships will not be cheap, as a new full-service dealer can cost $1 million or more. There are also the costs associated with marketing a new brand in the U.S., which will likely cost well over $100 million. Since Fiat vehicles haven't been available here in States in a couple decades, the folks in Turin, Italy will likely have a lot of work to do to spread the word. Those who actually remember the Fiat brand in the U.S. market will likely need the most convincing, as horrible quality woes were a main factor in the brands failure.



[Source: The Detroit Bureau]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess they want to keep the brands separate.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You know that small car you were waiting for, forget about it Dodge and Chrysler dealers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "build a whole new showroom and service department for 1 Fiat model. "

        Judy, I'm sure this is the beginning, not the end. There will be more FIAT models, and Alfa Romeos. This is not unlike Acura and Lexus, when they had only the Legend and the LS 400 to sell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually as jbetsko stated, Fiat always planned a limited run in the intro along with Alfa Romeo...

        I think we forget that Fiat & Maserati already has existing dealership networks, and that associating them with Alfa Romeo after the 8C sales made sense for one vehicle. But with Maserati set to get more sedans and expand its line up, I think a seperate dealer for Fiats and eventually Alfa Romeos make sense.

        Many Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep dealers share one major dealership space as is after the economic turn down and major dealer shutdowns. Dodge will be Truck Heavy, Chrysler will be a full fledge line with Lancias filling in the smaller sized cars, and Jeep will be calssic off roader SUV.

        The only puzzle is why would a bank be interested in financing a dealer to expand when the economy hasn't bounced back enough to show demand or product to support revenues (how many 500s do we plan to sell in the first year???)

        Until something changes, I don't see this plan working on a full scale size anytime soon which eventually will hurt Fiat and Alfa's mark penetration.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, Chrysler Group dealers will be getting the new Fiat franchise. Snark fail! For those who stayed awake during the November 4th plan presentation, a limited distribution of the 500 in the US at the outset was always planned. So, not all Chrysler Group dealers will get a Fiat franchise. Too many users here spend too much time bashing the old Chrysler and just bashing generally.

        When Alfa returns, its initial distribution will be limited as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Arrogance at it's best. These dealers went through bankruptcy and the dealer death march of the last year. Now they are expected to fork over enough cash to build a whole new showroom and service department for 1 Fiat model. On top of that will be the cost of staffing, etc. Chrysleriat already cut all of the dead beats so the ones that are left are the ones that had invested in relatively new buildings and facilities. This is a big slap in the face to the folks who are the front line of their business.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Even the mighty Toyota and Hyundai don't set up new dealership for Scion and Genesis ... confused.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Toyota did for Lexus. Honda did for Acura. Nissan did for Infiniti.

        GM tried to do this with Hummer right before they failed.

        The general sentiment seems to be that people who want to buy a 500, don't necessarily want to deal with the Dodge Ram sales dude.

        Right or wrong, this seems to be the intent.

        • 4 Years Ago
        They did for Lexus and Kia.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz

        WRONG buddy. Kia did not start out as a sister brand to Hyundai. Kia has a long history in building cars and first launched in US in 1994 as an independent brand before it was acquired by Hyundai in 1998.

        Thus.. to make correction, Hyundai DID NOT create a separate brand called KIA.

        Let's get the fact straight please.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I just don't get who this car is appealing to. The Ford offering is much better looking in the Fiesta, and you can buy a car from a company that didn't take any handouts. I'm just missing the demographic that the Fiat 500 appeals to.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I just can't believe this little car is going to herald the relaunch of Chrysler. As a Chrysler 300 owner, i recognize how important Chrysler is to the domestic market. Classic, big American cars that - although the interiors need improvement - were decent during their launch and never got a proper refresh. A Hemi C or SRT8 will eat up most of the other cars on the road in the same price range.

      This isn't going to hit as hard as the PT Cruiser and Pacifica did. Especially with so much competition out there. Only time will tell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Nick,

        So are you saying that everyone that does not carry multiple passengers or cargo a majority of the time should drive a Smart Car because it has the least amount of wasted space?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It always dumbfounds me that there is someone in the world who likes the PT Cruiser. A coworker of mine said it best - It's like they looked at the Prowler, which was already ugly, then removed any nice touches or detail that they could find and put it on a platform that gave it the driving dynamics of a little tikes car that's stuck in mud.

        Fiat, in my opinion, is providing more than just another SKU. They're providing forward momentum and progressive vehicles (like the 500) - neither of which Chrysler (at least in the Chrysler brand itself) has. If you've been in a Sebring, you've been in a 300, and you've been in a PT Cruiser. If you're in the market for a car that is big and doesn't suck, you buy a Ford or a BMW. Nostalgia only gets you so far (as Chrysler has repeatedly proven).

        I like to ask people how often they get into their car alone with minimal luggage. Most people say 9/10 times. So 90% of the time, 300 owners are using 1/5th of their available cargo capacity. Another 5% of the time they use 2/5ths. I'll never understand why people see the need to carry around the extra 1000 pounds of seats and safety equipment that they rarely use.

        But all is not lost for you, nicholiservia. The 500, in theory (not sure how it works in the US), brings down the fleet average in terms of fuel economy and emissions so they can continue to build big 4 wheeled boats for you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "A Hemi C or SRT8 will eat up most of the other cars on the road in the same price range."

        Welcome back from the 60s. You shouldn't need huge engines like that to get serious performance. US cars, on average, are a size or two too large and much too heavy. The market has moved on and Chrysler will need serious engineering and design help to compete in a global market place.

        • 4 Years Ago
        NICK

        I'm not saying I liked the PT cruiser...in fact, I detested it. however, the PT Cruiser cannot be discounted as it helped people start to look at what Chrysler was doing - and the sales records proved it was a hit. By the time the 300 came out, there were people lined up to get into a Chrysler. The 300 sells well to this day because of its unique offerings. The car's so big inside its basically a Crossover.

        I own a 300 and an S550. I want to get rid of the 300 for a Cts Coupe (for my fiance)
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I just can't believe this little car is going to herald the relaunch of Chrysler."

        It's not. The new GC, 300, Charger, and other future products will. The 500 is for FIAT, period.

        "You shouldn't need huge engines like that to get serious performance."

        Huge? It's a small block for crying out loud. A huge engine would be a 440 (Chrysler), 454 (GM), or 460 something (Ford). Chrysler hasn't built a mass market big block in over 25 years. The old LA engine (small block) built since the 60's finished out as a 318 and 360, but they were the same dimensions as the original block, which was a 273. Interesting note: Chrysler's "other V8" the 4.7 is almost the same displacement, 287 ci (4698 cc).

        "I'll never understand why people see the need to carry around the extra 1000 pounds of seats and safety equipment that they rarely use. "

        Why stop with a Corolla, Yaris, or 500? By your logic, we should all be tooling around in Smart-for-Twos since we don't need that extra capacity most of the time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nick..

        Whether you care to admit or not.. PT Cruiser was a very successful product that Chrysler can only dream of at its current stage. Its impressive sales numbers around the globe was definitely something to write home about. Also, it brought in huge number of people who would've otherwise NEVER considered buying a Chrysler product, and arguably made people to become more open to small hatchbacks in US market.

        It's design inside and out was very unique in its class and timing of launch was just right with all other nostalgic movement in the market. It droves quite well (Not saying this car is a great drivers car) and did the job pretty well as intended.

        It is just very unfortunate that Chrysler lost its edge and focus over the years since the PT Cruiser's launch and now clearly lags behind the competitions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How many Fiat branded models are they planning to bring over to justify standalone dealerships?

      It'll be interesting to see how comparable Fiat vs Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge models will be marketed. Will CJD dealers eventually be selling rebadged Dodge versions of models also available at a Fiat dealer? Will Fiat become the new "Plymouth"?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess this is a smart move for Fiat... but it sure seems that Chrysler has way the hell too many brands now.
      And they all seem strong (yet very weak) in their own way. Chrysler is obviously the "parent" company so cutting them would be weird. Dodge is, I believe, the sales volume division so they aren't going anywhere. Then there's Jeep which has to be one of the jewels of the corporation so no way they are getting dropped. And I am not even counting the stupid "Ram" division just for trucks.

      And now Fiat is going to add a 4th brand. Hmm. Well I hope it works out for them, but GM sells many times the number of cars that all of Chrysler sells and they are down to only 4 divisions too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And I imagine there are many Chrysler dealers in parts of this country that, depending on the requirements and inventory minimums, don't want to sell Fiats.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this is a good idea, presenting it as something completely new and different. Fingers crossed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Absolutely the right thing to do, taking a page form Mini's handbook. The Mini would not have been the success it is if it had been sharing showroom floor space with BMWs. This is how you establish a brand.

        If the dealerships look lat all like the ones in Europe, they will be a fun place to visit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      We need to bail out the auto industry to save American jobs, Chrylser is too big to fail. - Obama

      Ha! LOL

      Hope change hope!

      What a load of crap. Without Fiat products in Chrysler showrooms to bring in foot traffic Chrysler will be dead in 10 years.

      I thought this merger was meant to give Chrysler new products? This was nothing more than a power grab by a foreign corporation.

      Yet one more American brand - DEAD.

      HOPE CHANGE HOPE!!!

      The best part is like the "financial collapse" the American taxpayer paid for it all. HA! LOL



        • 4 Years Ago
        10 years huh? Seems to me if they've got 10 years they could have quite the turnaround. You types are supposed to be predicting imminent failure; "Chrysler WILL BE DEAD by the end of the year!!!". I recall hearing that last year. . . and the year before. . . and the year before that.

        Also, Fiat plans to use chrysler platforms for new Alfa Romeos.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure there will be hundreds of empty Saturn dealerships available.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good point. And many of those defunct Saturn dealerships are generally not too far from Chrysler, Dodge/Ram and Jeep dealerships.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Of course any new Fiat dealership will be sales AND service. The bulk of the profits are on the service side. Fiat has a long, well-earned reputation to uphold ("Fix It Again Tony!") and I'd hate to see them spoil that by only having a sales operation, leaving Chrysler to pick up the pieces. Fiat and Chrysler are indeed two of a kind...

      (And lest anyone get upset at the broad brush above, it's just a joke. I'm happy to see Fiat in the US again.)
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