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Chrysler Invites Dealers to Apply for Fiat Franchises

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On: Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 5:30PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Invites Dealers to Apply for Fiat Franchises

Chrysler Group has extended an invitation to 600 dealers to travel to Detroit on August 30th in order to learn more about the Fiat brand and to decide if they want to sell Fiats.  This will be the first time Fiat has sold an automobile in the U.S. since 1983.

Fiat, the Italian automaker currently owns 20 percent of Chrysler and has managed the automaker since it exited bankruptcy last year. The company plans to launch the Fiat 500 mini car in the U.S. in late 2010. The 500 mini will go into production in Toluca Mexico in the 4th quarter this year. Three additional 500 based Fiat models (a convertible, 4 door hatchback, and a sporty Abarth) will hit the showrooms by 2013. Fiat expects to have approximately 200 U.S. dealers that offer Fiat models.

The Chrysler Group has created a marketing plan that has named over 100 markets in 38 states which have high numbers of small car registrations and potential for growth in small car sales. States which are not included are; Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Dealers will start out offering Fiat models at their current dealerships and then eventually make the shift to a full Fiat dealership once the company launches additional models. Chrysler will accept applications for Fiat dealerships through September 22nd and the final selection of dealers who will be offered franchises will be announced in early October this year.

Peter Grady, Chrysler's vice president of network development and fleet stated; “The requirements for Fiat are straightforward: separate sales and display at launch, transitioning to a full dealership facility as the volume grows."

A Chrysler spokesperson stated that if a Chrysler dealer does NOT submit a great proposal for a specific market, some non-Chrysler dealers may be considered for Fiat franchises. “In that kind of circumstances we might consider a non-Chrysler dealer,” Kisiel said. “We won't know that until these dealers come to the meeting and learn what they need to know and submit their proposals.”

There has also been a rumor that dealers may get to sell Alfa Romeos; the brand is expected to return to the U.S. market in 2012. Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel refused to comment on the subject of Alfa Romeo sales, but said “the Fiat network might be expanded as more new products are added to the lineup.”

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