Fiat Chrysler is planning to add 400 stores to its U.S. dealer network in a bid to win back market share, Automotive News reports.
According to dealership sources that spoke to AN, the nationwide expansion is already underway in certain regions of the country, with construction being done on new Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram storefronts in markets with high automotive sales such as Houston.
Despite showing strong global profits in 2016, FCA’s U.S. market share dipped 11.3 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2016. Its plan to aggressively expand its brick and mortar footprint should help it compete with rivals such as General Motors and Ford, which offer newer, more comprehensive model lineups, but one dealer that spoke to AN said FCA was “about five years too late,” with its implementation.
FCA dealers have struggled amid the automaker’s slipping market share, which can be at least partially chalked up to a slew of recalls and a scandal in which FCA admitted to misreporting its yearly sales figures to uphold a claimed 75-month consecutive sales record. The automaker’s image took another hit earlier this month when the EPA came out and accused it of using a cheat device on its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine. FCA denies to accusations and CEO Sergio Marchionne hopes to resolve the matter with the EPA.
Last March FCA gave dealers that owned a standalone Fiat storefront to close the dealership and work their Fiat business into their existing Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram store. The change came after slow U.S. Fiat sales inspired FCA to find ways for its dealers to trim overhead expenses and boost sales of the struggling Italian nameplate. The automaker has also simplified Fiat’s lineup for 2017 in a bid to attract more American buyers.