Earlier this year Fiat Chrysler changed its strategy for Fiat in the U.S. and allowed dealerships to close their separate Fiat stores and work them into their existing Dodge-Jeep-Chrysler-Ram storefronts. The revision came after years of poor Fiat sales in the U.S., but having Fiat around could help dealers fill the small car void left by the departure of the Dodge Dart.
As Automotive News reports, some dealers may find having a sub-$20,000 Fiat hatchback on their showroom floors will help them sell cars to more budget-minded consumers. The inexpensive Dart, along with the Chrysler 200 sedan, was discontinued by FCA last month due to slow sales. The Jeep Patriot, another budget-minded product, will soon be replaced by the Jeep Compass, taking another cheap product out of FCA showrooms.
“If you can put a two-door Fiat 500 in your ad with an MSRP of $16,000 — especially if you don’t have a Dart or a 200 anymore — that’s attractive to a dealer,” New York-based FCA dealer owner Gary Brown told AN. “That will keep people coming in the door.”
Some dealers had opened separate Fiat storefronts when the brand returned to North America in 2011, but FCA gave them the go ahead to close the storefronts this year after many experienced poor sales. Those confident that Fiat can properly appeal to the kind of consumers that may have walked in and bought a Dart or Patriot have re-opened their Fiat storefronts within their existing showrooms, like Louisville, Kentucky based dealer John Jones, for example.
“It seemed like we could sell some extra product by picking that up,” Jones told AN. “We were offered the franchise, and we took it. We think we’re going to do real well with it.”