DETROIT -- Chrysler Group dealers who get Fiat franchises must establish a separate Fiat-brand showroom by Feb. 28, according to a company document sent to dealers last week.
Dealers have less than two weeks -- until Sept. 22 -- to submit detailed applications. Chrysler plans to choose 165 Fiat dealerships in October, and in March the company will launch advertising after dealers build inventories.
"The schedule is very tight for facility development in time for the March product launch," said Peter Grady, Chrysler network development chief, in a memo to dealers last week.
The March marketing launch date is not a delay in the launch of the Fiat 500 subcompact, Chrysler says. The company had been telling dealers they would get 500s before year end. Chrysler still plans to start production of the Fiat 500 in December and to get some cars to dealers by the end of the month, Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel said.
"We need to build up inventory on dealer lots," he said.