MADRID Fiat Espana hopes to add 27 dealers this year to boost its Spanish network to 125.
When we see our major competitors in Spain with 160 dealers, we understand that we are in the back of the bottom, said Jose Ramon Soriano, managing director of Fiat Espana.
Fiat wants new dealers in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. Fiat expects each to invest an average E6 million and sell about 800 units annually.
We are looking for independent operators, but if we dont find them, we will come alone in those cities, said Soriano.
Fiat expects to have new contracts reflecting new European Union block exemption contracts ready this summer. But about 10 percent of current Spanish dealers will not continue after September, because they dont have the standards we require, Soriano said.
He projected Spanish sales of 50,000 Fiats this year, up from 42,960 last year, mostly because a station wagon version of the Stilo is now available.
Soriano is optimistic about 2004, with the facelifted Fiat Punto, and new Gingo and Idea and Lancia Y models added to the lineup.
Including light commercial vehicles, he forecasts 77,387 Span-ish sales in 2004 for Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands. That is up from 71,000 in 2002. After three years of losses, Fiat Espana posted a 2002 profit of E1.5 million.