We're just under six months away from the launch of the Fiat 500 in the U.S., and Chrysler is getting its ducks in a row in terms of dealers. Though Chrysler hasn't confirmed it yet, the first expected version of the Fiat 500 here in the U.S. is a doozy: the Abarth 500.
The plan? There will be 125 dealers in 41 states, focusing on markets with "growth potential in the small car segment." For the full details on how Chrysler will select its Fiat dealers, hit up page 2.
Not as fierce as the Abarth SS, the regular Abarth is still a hot hatch worth wanting. With 135 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged T-Jet engine, the little car will deliver MINI Cooper-like performance in an even tighter package.
There have also been reports that the U.S.-spec Fiat 500 will get an upgraded platform to better meet U.S. buyers' noise, vibration, and crash-protection desires. It's supposed to be lighter, too--meaning we Yanks might just get the best Fiat 500 of them all. The upgraded platform won't be making the transition back to Europe or elsewhere.
The Fiat 500 hardtop will be here later this year (with some in Abarth spec, we hope), with the 500C cabriolet coming in early 2011. No word yet on whether the 500C will also get the Abarth treatment at some point.
Chrysler Group expects to select dealers in about 125 markets identified for growth potential in the small-car segment. Fiat dealers will be located in approximately 41 states.
“The Fiat dealer network will be appropriately sized to serve the market opportunity,” said Peter Grady, Vice President of Network Development and Fleet, Chrysler Group LLC. “Our vision is to establish a dealer network that will reflect and enhance the brand’s reputation for innovation and fun, and will offer a unique, personalized customer experience.”
Chrysler Group will send Dealer Application Guides to dealers in the identified markets containing specific Fiat dealer requirements and instructions on submitting a proposal. The guide presents details on facility, sales strategy, accessory sales, service and parts departments, training curriculum and financial requirements.
Dealers must demonstrate how they will market, sell and service Fiat vehicles with a new customer service model. Basic guidelines include.
- Location – The majority of dealerships will be located in the identified markets
- Eligible Dealers – Proposals from Chrysler Group’s best performing dealers will have preference in the identified markets
- Dealer Performance – Chrysler Group will evaluate interested dealers on volume performance, minimum sales responsibility accomplishment, capitalization and overall Dealer Standards score. In addition, the company will individually evaluate the proposed facility and customer handling metrics.
- Fiat Facility – A completely separate facility will be required to represent the Fiat brand.
- Fiat Team – A separate Fiat team will be required to sell and service the Fiat brand.
- Fiat Standards – Fiat standards will be unique from existing Chrysler Group Dealer Standards.
- Financial – Dealer candidates will have to show that they have the financial resources necessary to support the introduction of the Fiat brand.
Dealers in the target markets will be invited to attend a meeting in Chrysler Group World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. Chrysler Group plans to officially announce its U.S. Fiat dealer network locations in September.