Fiat 500 Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery

Conventional wisdom tells us that Fiat has a daunting task ahead of it: convincing 200 cash-strapped dealers (Chrysler stores get first dibs) to spend millions of dollars on dedicated Fiat dealerships. With precisely one product ready for sale in the next year or two. In a down economy with tight credit. It looks like conventional wisdom doesn't apply, though, as Fiat is now in the process of naming 165 of the 200 new dedicated dealerships, with the remaining stores being awarded early next year. Fiat has reportedly been selective about which U.S. markets that will be considered for a franchise, with 119 areas targeted.

While dealers are lining up to become one of the 200 Fiat dealers, the auto-hocking entrepreneurs have come up with very different proposals for their stand-alone operations. Automotive News reports that dealers have offered up existing used car lots, abandoned retail outlets and the conversion of shuttered dealerships.

Right now Chrysler is working with dealers to refine their pitches, which includes plans for facilities, marketing, sales and service. The first samples of the Fiat 500 will arrive in dealerships this September, though the official marketing launch doesn't happen until March, when dealers have stand-alone stores in place. Ultimately, the company is planning to sell 50,000 copies of the A-segment hatch, or about 250 units per store.

Related Gallery2011 Fiat 500 Sport

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]