2012 Fiat 500c - Click above for high-res image gallery
Fiat dealerships aren't popping up quite as quickly as the original plans showed they would, but the retail outlets could get a push now that the automaker is looking outside of the Chrysler family. Automotive News reports that Fiat is now offering franchises to non-Chrysler dealers for the first time. There are currently 59 Fiat dealers nationwide, and the automaker plans to open 130 stores by the end of 2011
At one point, there were reportedly 130 Chrysler dealers that had been approved for a Fiat store, but many deals fell through for various reasons. A Chrysler spokesperson tells AN that letters of intent have already been sent out to seven non-Chrysler dealers.
While opening up the franchising process will likely speed up the pace of adding Fiat stores to the U.S., there are still many hurdles for the Italian make. For starters, the 500 is currently the only Fiat available in the U.S., and it could sit alone on the show floor for at least another year. And so far, Fiat has insisted that new franchises will only be awarded to those with plans to build a standalone store.
Though it doesn't sound like a great situation to us, we're guessing there are at least 71 more entrepreneurs willing to sign on the dotted line to gain another foothold in the car business.