• Mar 2, 2011
Fiat 500 Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery

Fiat's plan to produce 200 dedicated Fiat-brand dealerships in a relatively short period of time always struck us as an overly ambitious plan. And with the Fiat 500 headed for full-scale Mexican production in the next couple weeks, we've been wondering how that plan has been progressing. Maybe not as quickly as the Italian automaker hoped.

A new report in Automotive News shows that only 20 dealerships will be opened as you read this, with another 10-20 retail outlets scheduled to cut ribbon by mid-March. Fiat head Laura Soave reportedly told AN that the dealer rollout is "a tiny bit behind," adding that 130 stores should be ready to rock by September. There was no mention in the report regarding Fiat's original target of 200 dealerships, or whether the automaker still plans to open that many outlets in the future.

Fiat's dealer situation isn't great yet, but there is good news for those who pre-ordered a 500. Soave says those first special edition orders should start getting filled in mid-March, with dealer inventory beginning to fill by the end of the month.



[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Better get two, 'cause one will be in the shop. Poor service record here years ago, poor service record in Yurp now.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Anybody who had one here knows about their experience with this make. Fiat is troubled with poor longevity in Yurp, too. I personally got bitten twice, with an x1/9 long ago here, and a Punto in UK last year. As the Packard ad said: "Ask the man who owns one." Mine was fortunately a "hire" (rental).
        Stereotype, indeed.
        • 3 Years Ago
        But we Mercans are always behind 6 hours to Yurp.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The natives are friendly, and now the females shave and the beer is cold. That's why they're Yurapeeins.
      • 3 Years Ago
      At the recent Louisville New Car Show the Fiat Booth was manned by some well trained personnel who were very knowledgeable about the car and took the time to talk to each and every potential customer. They told how a dealership would initially be set up in a local Mall (same way the Mini came to Louisville) and the Chrysler dealership where service would be done. They had a Sport model on display and it was enough to make me sign a check! Much better in person than I would have imagined...and roomier, too! Fiat is back in the States and it looks like they are doing it right this time. Of course, being a former X-1/9 owner, you'd think I would rue the return. I am glad to see them back...the 500 should go a long way toward changing Americans thoughts of the former Fix It Again Tony brand.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Local dealer in St. Louis is advertising them in the paper.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's built in Mexico? Oh c'mon!
        • 3 Years Ago
        euro spec model is build in Poland not Italy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Living in a somewhat major urban city, Orlando, FL, I feel like Fiat should have already had a marketing strategy within the city. We have exotic car dealers spread out between downtown and along I-4 by our upscale mall. Across from this mall behind the MB and Lotus dealers there is a Smart building, if Fiat and Chrysler were smart this is the area they would try and market the 500 since it is a better choice then the Smart cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      it will be a very hard car to market.

      it under performs in its segment. it is not as good as larger vehicles.

      it will need some very savvy art.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Maybe they will have more time to improve the mileage & performance.

      Remember the Zima case study: good marketing will kill a bad product.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I see the 500 as bad because it doesn't get exceptional mileage, or even competitive mileage. Nor is it fast (pray for turbo), nor is it space efficient.

        It is interesting because it is something new to the US market.

        So if they don't fix these flaws, and they market the hell out of it...
        Hence the Zima business case study reference. Zima would have done better without any marketing.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Zima?!? No!!!

        That's a terrible analogy for several reasons. First among them is that Zima was terrible. And not "I'm an American and I hate small cars, even though they're already hugely successful in Europe" kind of terrible. Actually terrible. I actually called the company and complained about it, it was so disappointing at launch, and I should have been it's target market when it first came out, as a college student who had not yet developed a taste for beer, and at a time before the hard-liquor punch products were available. At the time, the options of stuff to drink out of a bottle were limited to beer and wine coolers. And wine coolers had a certain "reputation" already for the male market. Then Zima came along, and was worse. But people did buy it for a few years there, until it go shoved out of it's market niche by the hard lemonades and the whiskey coolers and such.
        But the Fiat 500 is not a bad product, it just remains to be seen whether or not it's a good product for this market.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about we let the 500 come out first before we start having opinions on bad quality control?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Take your time Chrysler/Fiat and do it right. I'm watching the progress of Westbury Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge here on Long Island with their Fiat dealership and things are progressing well. Westbury is the second best selling dealership on LI, right behind Ralley BMW,Mercedes,Lexus and the wait will be worth it. Westbury should sell Fiats as fast as they can be delievered. They already sell more Jeeps than anyone in the northeast thanks to LIs love affair with Jeeps. Ford Explorers are as rare as hens teeth on LI where most everyone owns a Jeep of some kind. Fiats has chosen carefully in this envronment of astute marketing and the 500 should become a major hit among the affluent LI crowd. Why rush into a hungry market?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I made the required $500 deposit on one of the first 500s, #98 actually. But the closest dealership was going to be 2.5 hours away, and may have not even opened yet according to this article. We were told we would see the 500s in December before signing purchase orders. When December came and went with no 500s - I canceled my order and bought a Golf TDI. Sorry about that Tony!
      • 3 Years Ago
      An enthusiast on YouTube found one at a dealer and filmed a detailed walkaround for those interested in this car.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5MeZrFpuaE
      • 3 Years Ago
      My wife and I stumbled across the quasi-Fiat dealership this weekend. Actually test drove a M/T 500 Sport.

      We both prefer small cars and manual transmissions, so the 500 was right up our alley. Needless to say, we loved it.

      It will be my wifes car and she loved everything about it. It was brilliant. The rather upright seating position, the location of the shift with the driver armrest, the zippy motor (in sport mode), the suspension is firm, but not Mini-cooper-firm. She was ready to put down the deposit. We didnt. Only because I am making her wait for the Abarth. But rest assured, once the Abarth is announced, we will be at the dealership that day - Deposit in hand.
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