Just in time for the holidys, three Metro Detroit auto dealers have been selected to sell Chrysler’s 2011 Fiat 500 minicar.
Carl Galeana of Van Dyke Dodge, Bill Golling of Golling Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Bloomfield Hills and David Fischer of the Suburban auto dealership empire will be selling the car, the first Fiat branded vehicle to be sold in the U.S.
WWJ spoke with Carl Galeana who said he’s very excited to have been chosen by Fiat.
“As soon as I got the information, I drove up to the store, bought a bottle of champaign, popped the cork for all my employees that are left and said ‘Thanks for sticking around. You’ve been loyal employees, and we all have a job again,” Galeana said.
“My employees are going to stay working, and that was huge,” he said.
Galeana’s said the new home for Fiat will be located at his former Saturn dealership, located at Hall Road and Romeo Plank in Macomb.
The Auburn Hills-based automaker says it plans to have Fiat dealers in 119 markets across the United States. Some dealers chosen will build new facilities while others will convert buildings into dealerships. Some dealers will purchase former auto dealerships, while others are snapping up empty retail stores in their markets, according to Chrysler.
Chrysler said it has also received Fiat proposals from dealers outside the company and is now reviewing their bids.
Chrysler, which is now controlled by Italy’s Fiat, previously said it hoped to have 165 Fiat stores in the U.S. by early 2011, with the ultimate goal of having 200 locations.
Chrysler says dealers will be ready to take orders for the Fiat 500 minicar. The company has said dealers would start selling the minicar in December. It will eventually be sold as a convertible and electric car, and larger vehicles from Italy’s Lancia brand may come later.
“We have carefully considered each of these dealer proposals looking for the best locations and the most creative plans,” said Peter Grady, Chrysler Group’s Vice President of Network Development and Fleet Operations. “We are thrilled with their level of interest in securing the Fiat franchise and in the innovative proposals they have submitted. We’re excited to be at the point where we now can start appointing our Fiat dealer network.”
Chrysler has said it is looking to sell 50,000 of the 500s the first year they arrive.
© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.