Fiat hasn’t had a presence in the United States for close to 30 years, and its return to the country is reportedly not without delays in dealer openings.
Currently, 130 locations are expected to be running by September, but that’s about seven months off original expectations. Parent Chrysler expected the majority of the dealers to be in business by the end of February. Only about 12 stores are ready to receive 500s as of this writing, and a grand total of 20 will likely be in play by the end of this month, according to Automotive News. Another 30 to 40 franchises will be ready by mid-March.
Fiat U.S. head Laura Soave says some of the delay is related to acquiring local government permits. If prepared, dealers will begin taking 500s into the showroom by late March, though the special Prima Edizione (limited to just 500 units) will be arriving the second week of March. These have already been taken.
Even with 60 dealers doing business in March, that leaves the remaining 70 to roll out into September. We suppose it shouldn’t be too bad though, since the Mexico-built 500s don’t have far to travel and gas prices continue to creep towards that $4-per-gallon mark. The fuel price surge should help bring some interest to the 1.4-liter small car.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)