Jason Stoicevich, 34, the new head of the Fiat brand in North America, spent the last few months of 2013 touring the nation and meeting with Fiat dealers. He detailed future product plans and introduced initiatives to make Fiat dealers more profitable.
He spoke with Staff Reporter Larry P. Vellequette this month at the Detroit auto show.
Q: Dealers say Fiat needs more product in its showrooms. Why haven't more nameplates come to the United States?
A: There is a car coming for Q1 of next year, [the 500X crossover]. That's coming, but beyond that, it's easy to look at some of the cars and want to bring them over, but it's a process.
We have to be homologated to be sold in the United States, but not all of those cars are going to meet U.S. specs. In a perfect world, we'd say, "Hey, we love that car. Let's bring it over to the United States," but it's not that easy.
There are other products coming -- past the next crossover -- that are going to be coming here.
Can some of your methods used to sell Fiats in California also work in places such as the Midwest?
Part of our success in California was our dedication to regional specific marketing. Los Angeles is a great example. There's a large pool there, and we dedicated a lot of our resources from a marketing perspective there to do well.
We can do that. It's not as easy as painting that brush across the Midwest, but there are markets in the Midwest where there are major pockets of opportunity. That is part of the strategy for this year for the brand, to get a little more tactical. You're always going to have a national presence, but there are market-specific actions to address some of the key markets where we could sell a few more Fiats.
Are you happy with sales of the 500L?
We're coming off a record month in December, selling 1,421. That's not a bad number. There are some things coming here very, very soon from a marketing perspective where I think we're going to find the next gear on that car very, very fast.