For Chrysler LLC dealers who have struggled as the automaker's sales have plunged, the announcement of a new global partner — Fiat S.p.A. — was good news.
The alliance will give Chrysler access to Fiat's small-car platforms, powertrains and components. Fiat-designed vehicles will be built at Chrysler plants and sold through Chrysler dealerships. In turn, Fiat's distribution network will sell Chrysler vehicles in markets outside the United States.
Chuck Eddy, owner of Bob and Chuck Eddy Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Austintown, Ohio, said the Chrysler-Fiat alliance is great news for dealers.
"We don't build a little car, and they don't build a big car," said Eddy, who was an Alfa Romeo dealer for several years the last time that brand sold vehicles in the United States. Alfa Romeo, a Fiat brand, stopped exporting cars to the United States in 1995. Alfa Romeo now sells the low-volume, high-performance Competizione through Maserati dealerships and has been pondering a full return.
Said Wes Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich.: "I go to Europe and I see thousands and thousands of Fiats running around. They've got diesel technology and small-car platforms. I don't know what it costs to develop a platform, but I think it's very expensive. If you've got a proven platform, why not share?"
"I think it's a great strategic move," said Jerry Golinvaux, president of Roseville Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Roseville, Minn., a Minneapolis suburb. He said Chrysler's partnership can show lawmakers in Washington that the company has a real plan.