Abarth wants 100 dealers in Europe
“In Italy, we already have 35 signed contracts. We will reach our planned total of 40 by year-end,” said Abarth CEO Luca Deo Meo.
Abarth, which was relaunched in March at the Geneva auto show, begins sales in Italy on October 13 with the 155hp Grande Punto. Prices start at 17,800 euros. The most-powerful non-Abarth Grande Punto, the 1.9-liter turbodiesel, offers 130hp.
De Meo, who last week was promoted to chief marketing officer for Fiat group, said Abarth will add 60 dealers in the rest of Europe by the end of 2008.
The brand goes on sale in Switzerland by the end of the year.
Japan gets the brand in 2008.
Abarth requires dealers to dedicate at least 200 square meters of showroom space to the brand. The brand’s first flagship store is in Turin.
Owned by Nicola Loccisano, the 1,000-square-meter Officine Abarth cost more than 700,000 euros to set up.
“Our business plan calls for us to break even 24 months from the start of operations,” said Loccisano, who is president of Ifas Gruppo, Italy’s largest dealer group.
De Meo envisions opening more stores like the one in Turin in places such as London and Tokyo.
In the next 12 months, Abarth will add a second model, which will be derived from the Fiat 500 minicar. The brand also will offer two esseesse booster kits, one for the Grande Punto and one for the 500. Esseesse is pronounced SS, which is short for super sport.
Fiat says the esseesse kit for the Grande Punto will be available starting early next year. The kit boosts output to 200hp and costs between 4,800 euros and 5,600 euros because it includes special brakes, springs, wheels and tires.
De Meo said Abarth invested 19 million euros to create its version of Grande Punto. The brand needs to sell 5,000 to 8,000 units a year to break even.
Austrian-born engineer Karl Abarth founded Abarth in 1949, four years after he moved to Italy and changed his name to Carlo. Abarth had worked for Porsche’s racing department. Fiat bought the brand in 1971. Abarth’s logo is a scorpion because Abarth’s birth sign was Scorpio.
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