DETROIT -- Fiat dealerships will certify and sell used vehicles of any brand, as part of Chrysler Group's Diversified Certified program, launched today.
The program, which offers a Chrysler Group warranty on a certified pre-owned vehicle of any brand, will be opened to dealers selling Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands in about 60 days.
"Just because we didn't build the vehicle, doesn't mean we won't back it with a Chrysler Group warranty," Eric Swanson, head of certified pre-owned vehicles at Chrysler, said in a statement.
"We always want our customers to visit our dealers and purchase a new or certified pre-owned Chrysler Group model, but now we have given them another option to consider."
'Bring attention' to Fiat
To be eligible for the program, vehicles will have to have fewer than 48,000 miles on the odometer and be a 2008 model or newer, Chrysler said. Once they are certified, those vehicles will have a warranty which is good for five years or 60,000 miles from original in-service date, Swanson told Automotive News in a phone interview.
"Most of these 140 Fiat dealers also have Chrysler stores," Swanson said. "We thought it was a good chance to bring attention to [the Fiat] brand, and Fiat just had some great sales last month, so it's a good time to try it out with those guys."
In February, Fiat had its best sales month since its launch. Sales of the Fiat 500 jumped 69 percent to 3,227 units. Industrywide sales rose 16 percent, while Chrysler Group's sales climbed 42 percent.
The 140 Fiat dealerships across the United States have had slow sales, almost no service business and no supply of used Fiats. The new program therefore appears to be at least in part an attempt to aid those dealers' cash flow.
Swanson said statistics have shown that used-vehicle profits tend to be higher with certified pre-owned vehicles, making that reason alone a good reason to do it. A dealership's new-car and finance and insurance departments also can benefit from a strong certified used program.
"There are all kinds of possibilities now that we didn't have before," he said. "If we have the customer come back to our stores, we have endless possibilities of selling them a new vehicle, a certified pre-owned vehicle, extended warranty or whatever else."
Certified used-vehicle programs are almost always limited to the brand that the franchised dealer sells. One of the few previous programs that offered certification to other brands' used cars and trucks was offered by Saturn which, like Fiat, had very small sales and no pool of its own used vehicles in its early days.