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Selected dealers meet for “unique experience”

by Bill Cawthon on
New Fiat 500

Chrysler dealers got a chance to check out the new Fiat 500

On Monday, Chrysler hosted about 400 dealers to outline the requirements to become a Fiat franchisee in the United States. The company is looking to have dealerships in about 165 locations, mostly metropolitan areas with a high concentration of small-car registrations.

“The Fiat brand offers our dealers the opportunity to be part of a unique experience,” said Laura Soave, Head of Fiat Brand North America. “Our dealers will be able to interact with a group of individuals that are not part of their current customer base. … Our dealers will be the key point of contact with our customers, and thereby, a crucial part of the success of the Fiat brand.”

Dealers learned about the history of Fiat and U.S. product plans along with key information about sales expectations, competitors, and dealership facility and training requirements. Proposals are due by Sept. 22 and Chrysler expects to name the successful dealers in the fourth quarter.

The new Fiat retail network will begin selling the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 late this year, and the Fiat 500 Cabrio model in 2011. The Fiat 500 will be built in Toluca, Mexico. The North American version of the Fiat 500 will be equipped with Fiat’s 1.4-liter, in-line four-cylinder Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE) featuring the MultiAir system. The engine is manufactured in the United States and delivers an increase in power up to 10 percent and a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions up to 10 percent when compared to similar engines.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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