Fiat dealers can postpone expansions as Alfa Romeo returns to U.S.
Grady: "The (Alfa) 4C is the first vehicle that comes at the end of this calendar year, and it’s going to go to the current Fiat dealers that are performing."
ORLANDO -- Changes in the product cadence for Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States means Fiat dealers may be able to postpone required expansions of their stores for up to two years until more vehicles arrive in 2015, Chrysler Group’s top dealer executive said.
But not every Fiat dealer in the United States will automatically get Alfa Romeos to sell, said Peter Grady, Chrysler’s vice president for network development and fleet.
Last month, Chrysler revealed that the Alfa 4C will arrive in Fiat dealerships by the end of this year, marking the first time that the Italian high-performance brand has been sold in the United States in broad numbers since 1995.
“The 4C is the first vehicle that comes at the end of this calendar year, and it’s going to go to the current Fiat dealers that are performing,” Grady said in an interview here. “So if you’re selling and you’re taking care of your customer, you’ll be first up for Alfa Romeo.”
Chrysler’s Italian owner, Fiat S.p.A., has allocated 1,000 Alfa 4Cs for sale in the United States each year out of a total annual global production of 2,500. Fiat has 202 dealerships in the United States today, and Grady said he expects to have 220 Fiat dealerships up and running by Oct. 1.
Many of the existing Fiat dealerships are in malls or other locations that do not have attached service departments. Grady said Chrysler has always told Fiat dealers that they must build “full, complete” dealerships before they could get Alfa Romeo vehicles to sell.
But Fiat’s amended product plan leaves the low-volume 4C as the only Alfa on sale in the United States until 2015. Grady said it would not be fair to ask dealers to build full dealerships to sell Alfa based only on a limited run single model.
The Fiat dealerships will get a second Fiat model, the four-door 500L, to sell this year, but struggling Fiat dealers have longed for Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States to bolster their profits.
“With the way that the product plan is now coming to market, we’re very keen on making sure that these guys do not over-invest while the volume is somewhat limited,” Grady said. Instead, dealers who are meeting sales and customer service targets will get the car, even if they have a store in a mall, so long as they agree to build a “full facility” before the next wave of Alfa Romeos arrive in 2015.
“The 4C is going to be a great image car, a great way to launch the brand,” Grady said. “But it’s the next vehicles that you saw on that [product] plan that are the volume vehicles.”
Fiat dealers will not have to pay an additional franchise fee to sell Alfa Romeos in their showrooms, Grady said, but will have to invest in signage and other requirements necessary to sell the brand.
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