NEW YORK -- The Fiat 500c, the second model in Fiat's fledgling North American lineup, has begun arriving in dealerships with a price $4,000 above the comparably equipped hatchback.
Prices for Fiat's convertible start at $20,000 for the base Pop model and climb to $24,000 for the upscale Lounge model.
Both prices include shipping charges.
The "c" in 500c stands for "cabrio."
The Fiat 500c is available in just the two models. Fiat offers a third model -- the Sport -- for the hatchback.
Fiat officials expect the cabriolet model to exceed 10 percent of all 500 sales, based on dealer feedback and consumer inquiries.
The automaker has set a U.S. sales target of 45,000 500 units for 2011.
Customers have a choice of three colors for the convertible top: black, red and tan. The sliding roof has a color-matched spoiler. Fourteen exterior colors are available.
The car comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty package that includes roadside assistance. Customers also receive a 3-year/36,000 mile maintenance package.
Speaking at the media launch of the car here, Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America, said Fiat hopes roadside assistance and maintenance will help reassure customers who might be concerned that there aren't that many dealerships around.
More dealers coming
Fiat says 58 of the 130 planned U.S. dealerships were open as of this week.
Soave said more dealerships are opening each week and the whole network will be open by year end. Since the cars went on sale in March, 2,200 500s have been sold.
Soave said Fiat hopes to make up more sales ground as more dealerships open.
Fiat is hoping the unusual design, which features full body side panels with a convertible top that slides backward and forward along the roof rails, will set the 500c apart from competitors such as the Mini convertible.
"This gives us space and makes us unique," Soave said.
Fiat claims that the 500c has 70 percent less header shake than competitors. The body design is the same as that of the Fiat 500 in Europe.
"We kept a lot of the same design cues" as the original Fiat 500 Cabriolet to maintain Fiat's tradition of providing "safe, affordable transportation to the masses," Soave said.
Like the hatchback, the 500c features a 1.4-liter FIRE engine with Fiat's MultiAir system, which regulates valve openings for maximum efficiency, performance and fuel economy.
The cloth for the power top was supplied by Haartz, and Magna built the convertible mechanism, according to Joseph Grace, the vehicle line executive for the 500c.
The convertible weighs 50 pounds more than the hatchback version of the 500.