DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler is considering letting dealers open Jeep satellite centers, a move that could boost sales and free space in crowded FCA showrooms.
According to a company insider, the idea mirrors an effort by FCA to encourage dealerships in some truck-heavy markets to open annexes to handle Ram customers. FCA has 37 truck centers across the country and 28 more under development.
Al Gardner, FCA's head of network development, confirmed in an interview that Jeep satellite centers have been discussed and are under consideration. But he said the company has no plan to add Jeep franchises.
"I'm not looking at establishing stand-alone Jeep stores outside our current structure, and I'm not looking at establishing more Jeep stores as stand-alones at all. We're not going to add more Jeep points," Gardner said.
"Would I consider doing Jeep as a stand-alone, same structure, same business unit, same entity? Maybe. By the way, I think a whole bunch of dealers would consider it too," Gardner said. "But it doesn't mean that we're going to go out and do it, and it sure as hell doesn't mean that we're going to go out and add Jeep stores."
But a Jeep satellite center could allow a dealer to further exploit one of the industry's hottest-selling brands, and could be especially profitable for accessory sales. The Jeep Wrangler, for example, is FCA's most customized vehicle.
Jeep centers also could help differentiate the brand as it prepares to launch a $100,000-plus Jeep Grand Wagoneer in 2019, the FCA source said.