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Chrysler: Dealers want Fiat

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Chrysler: Dealers want Fiat

Plan would have 165 U.S. stores ready by February 2011

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Chrysler Group LLC says response from dealers seeking a franchise to sell vehicles from partner Fiat SpA has exceeded its expectations.

Wednesday was the deadline to submit a proposal for a Fiat dealership. A final number was unavailable at the end of the business day because some proposals were still arriving.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, wants Fiat representation in 165 locations in the United States.

About 500 Chrysler dealers met in Detroit Aug. 30 to learn the requirements to become a Fiat dealer and gain an overview of the product and business plans through 2014.

Bill Golling of Golling Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Bloomfield Hills is among those who are interested in selling Fiats.

He made sure his proposal, including conceptual drawings, met the deadline.

Golling said he left the August meeting with the impression that two dealers will be chosen for Metro Detroit, and he wants to be one of them.

He has a used car area, with a showroom and service area, that can be converted to a Fiat showroom in the short term, but recognizes the wisdom of a stand-alone facility in the future.

Production of the tiny Fiat 500 hatchback for North America begins in December in Mexico.

Future vehicles include convertible, sporty and electric versions of the Fiat 500. The Alfa Romeo brand will return to the United States with a mid-size car and crossover in 2012, followed by a larger SUV and luxury sedan, as well as some smaller cars.

"It's exciting starting all over fresh," Golling said.

Chrysler will begin evaluating the dealership proposals immediately.

"Now that we have the dealer proposals in hand, we move right into the process of reviewing them and then naming our Fiat dealers in a few weeks," said Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel.

Chrysler wants dealers to have a fully operational separate showroom in place with trained staff by February, before the marketing campaign gets under way in March, Kisiel said.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100923/AUTO01/9230396/1148/Chrysler--Dealers-want-Fiat#ixzz10MMaC2Vr

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You know why they want Fiats? Because they're not Chryslers. (sorry DF!)

You know, I was going to say something similar... but maybe not quite so blunt.

Its similar to how AMC dealers probably felt prior to the arrival of new Renaults in the early '80s... no truly new product for over half a decade... those Renaults looked pretty good... at first.

Chrysler is starved for product... so having ANYTHING new to sell is something to look forward to... and the 500 is probably top on the list of "not available in the US, but should be" cars.

Granted, Fiat 2010 is considerably better than Renault 1980, but it'll be be interesting to see how this is viewed a decade from now.

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Yeah, I'm interested in seeing Chrysler's post-recession vehicles 5+ years from now. I know they've got a real good thing going right now since Marchionne took charge, and I applaud that. I just hope they get a lot of high remarks and some of these niche vehicles catch on real well.

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