Eager for fresh products to sell to consumers, Chrysler dealers have reacted enthusiastically to a request by Chrysler Group to submit applications to sell Fiat cars in the U.S., the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker has said.
"The response from our dealers has exceeded our expectations," said Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel, in an e-mail Wednesday to Bloomberg News. "We now will begin reviewing the proposals and look forward to naming our Fiat dealers in the next few weeks."
Chrysler declined to say how many dealers had applied as the tally of applications continues. Dealers had until Wednesday to submit their proposals.
Dealerships to be awarded Fiat franchises will be notified in October. The nation's No. 3 automaker is looking to establish Fiat franchises in some 165 locales. Chrysler has stipulated that those dealers vying to sell Fiats must have a distinct, operational showroom and trained staff in place by February. Marketing for Fiat products is planned to get underway in March.
Fiat took over management of Chrysler last year as the then-troubled carmaker was heading into bankruptcy. CEO Sergio Marchionne heads up both companies.
Among models Fiat is looking to sell in the U.S. is its small 500 hatchback, production of which begins December in Mexico. Other versions of the 500, including a convertible and an electrically powered model, are expected to follow.
Further, Fiat has plans to begin selling several Alfa Romeo models, including a mid-size sedan and crossover vehicle in 2012, followed by a larger SUV and luxury sedan. Alfa Romeo, which Fiat acquired in 1986, hasn't sold cars in the U.S. for more than a decade, having pulled out of the market in 1995.